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Trump says Russia belongs in G7, wants to make it the G8 again

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump during a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit on Nov. 11, 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Metzel Mikhail/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he is in favor of letting Russia back in to the exclusive Group of Seven advanced economies when the United States hosts the event next year.

His remarks came before a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on August 20 in Washington and four days before he arrives at this year’s G7 summit in the southern French resort town of Biarritz.

“I could certainly” support that, he told reporters at the White House. “It’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”

Trump said “if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,” regarding the inclusion of Russia in the group.

Russia was expelled from the old G8 format in 2014 after invading and then annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. U.S. intelligence agencies also say Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been accused of ordering the murders of opponents at home and abroad, including in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, allegations that he denies.

However, Trump said Russia was ejected from the exclusive club of nations because former President Barack Obama had been “outsmarted” by Putin.

Trump has in the past blamed Obama for “letting” Russia take over Crimea.

The G7 has existed since 1975 and comprises the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s summit host, wants the meeting to be about global inequality. Climate change is a major factor in driving economic and social inequality, France has said.

Trump three years ago took the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

At last year’s G7 meeting in Canada, Trump refused to sign the group’s final collective statement and left in anger.