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Trump says ‘common sense’ to invite Russia to G7

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Mikhail Metzel/Tass/Abaca Press/TNS)

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

U.S. President Donald Trump has said it is “common sense” to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to an expanded Group of Seven (G7) summit.

Speaking to Fox News radio on June 3, Trump said the G7 leading industrialized countries needed to talk to Russia despite its policies on the international stage and illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

“It’s not a question of what he’s done. It’s a question of common sense,” Trump said.

“The problem is many of the things that we talk about are about Putin, so we’re just sitting around wasting time because then you have to finish your meeting and somebody has to call Putin or deal with Putin on different things. And I say have him in the room,” Trump said.

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On May 30, Trump said he would postpone the G7 summit from June to September because of the coronavirus pandemic and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea, and India. Some commentators suggested the expanded list was meant in part to isolate China.

Trump described the G7 as a “very outdated group of countries” that in its current format doesn’t properly represent what is happening in the world.

The G7 includes the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, and Italy.

Russia was expelled from the G8 in 2014 after it invaded and illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Moscow has simultaneously supported separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Other G7 members have responded coolly to the idea of having Russia rejoin the elite group.

Germany on June 3 said that as the host this year Trump could invite any country he wanted to the summit as a guest, but that any change to the group’s format would need the agreement of all the members.

“Inviting guests to the G7 has precedent, and is a matter for the presidency,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. But “if someone wants to change the format of the G7, that could only happen in any case with a unanimous decision by the G7.”

France similarly said there had been no change in Russian behavior to justify Moscow reentering the group.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 1 said he opposed reintegrating Moscow into the G7.

“Russia was excluded from the G7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago,” Trudeau told reporters. “Its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7 and will continue to remain out.”