Donald Trump postpones G7 summit and signals wider invitation list

After Angela Merkel pulls out, US president postpones Camp David meeting but says he wants to invite Australia, Russia and India in future

US president Donald Trump has postponed the Group of Seven summit that he wanted to hold in June and will also expand the list of countries invited to attend the rescheduled event to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7 in its current format was a “very outdated group of countries”.

“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.

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He said he had not yet set a new date for the meeting, but thought the gathering could take place in September, around the time of the annual meeting of the United Nations in New York, or perhaps after the US election in November.

It was unclear whether Trump’s desire to invite the additional countries was an effort to permanently expand the G7. On several previous occasions, he suggested Russia be added given what he described as Moscow’s global strategic importance.

Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014 when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was US president, after Moscow annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia still holds the territory, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to readmit Moscow.

White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said on Saturday that Trump wants the countries to discuss China at the summit.

Trump has attacked Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China, and on Friday he ordered his administration to begin the process of ending special US treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for China’s decision to impose a new security law on the former British colony.

The decision to postpone the G7 summit is a retreat for Trump, who had sought to host the group of major industrialized countries in Washington as a demonstration that the United States was returning to normal after the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 103,000 Americans to date.

Trump had cancelled an in-person G7 meeting that was scheduled for March as the virus spread, but had recently sought to revive it.

French president Emmanuel Macron backed the idea of an in-person meeting, according to the White House, but Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau declined to endorse it, saying there were too many health-related questions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week she could not attend.

South Korea is aware of Trump’s invitation and will discuss the matter with the United States, a government official in Seoul told Reuters on Sunday.

The G7 is made up of the US, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, and the European Union also attends.

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