Feeding Trump's anxiety, aides say, is his realization that the economy - the one sturdy pillar undergirding his bid for a second term - is undeniably wobbly. His answer has been greatly misinterpreted.
Leaping into the fray, European Council President Donald Tusk, who takes part in the G7 discussions, warned the EU would respond "in kind" if Trump acted on his threat.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow offered a different explanation when interviewed Sunday by CBS' "Face the Nation", saying Trump "didn't quite hear the question".
"The president was asked if he had "any second thought on escalating the trade war with China". Trump replied. Reporters asked again whether he had second thoughts. The European Union wants to continue negotiations with Tehran to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, whereas the USA wants to increase pressure on the Islamic country.
"I haven't discussed that", Trump said Sunday morning.
Increasingly fearful of an economic slowdown's potential to diminish his 2020 electoral chances, Trump meant to press leaders about what can be done to spur growth in the US and overseas, as well as to open European, Japanese and Canadian markets to American manufacturers and producers.
"Regardless of his specific expression each time, we're seriously making preparations for scenario in which China-U.S. trade relations deteriorate further, even much worse than now", he wrote on Twitter after Trump's remarks.
Internationally, Macron is a vocal champion of fighting climate change, and has challenged Trump on the issue.
Demonstrators at the so-called "portrait march" were carrying official portraits of the 41-year-old French leader which had been taken down from town halls across the country over the last few months.
"Just to register a faint sheep-like note of our view on the trade war", he told the American leader. "We're in favour of trade peace".
"They have figured out how to deal with this president", said Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He cited China's theft of intellectual property and the large USA trade deficit with China, saying "in many ways that's an emergency".
Trump then entered the first official summit meeting, initially set as a discussion of foreign policy and security issues.
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The White House had said putting the economy on the agenda was Trump's idea, but the G-7 has for over four decades always included a focus on the economy.
Trump planned to press leaders about what can be done to spur growth in the USA and overseas, as well as to open European, Japanese and Canadian markets to American manufacturers and producers.
The G-7 summit is a meeting of the world's biggest economic powers, including the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Only hours before his arrival in Biarritz Saturday, Trump threatened anew to place tariffs on French wine imports to the U.S. in a spat over France's digital services tax; the European Union promised to retaliate.
"This may be the last moment to restore our political community", Tusk told a news conference in the seaside resort of Biarritz, France, where the leaders of the seven leading world economies have gathered for several days of meetings and talks.
A top Iranian official paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G-7 summit and headed straight to the buildings where leaders of the world's major democracies have been debating how to handle the country's nuclear ambitions.
Trump disputed that he had signed off on any such message.
Trump also appeared at odds with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the seriousness of North Korea's series of short-range missile launches.
Macron, in recent months, has tried to play intermediary between the US and Iran, as tensions flare over Iran's nuclear program and the Trump administration's increasingly restrictive sanctions on that country.
He said that they would be discussing a raft of pressing global issues, including the standoff with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapon ambitions, and stressed that "strong coordination" was needed. Trump said that at times they "go at each other a little bit" but had a "special relationship".