WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump announced Saturday he is postponing the G7 summit until September and plans to invite four additional non-member nations including Russia.
The president, speaking to reporters aboard an Air Force One flight back to Washington from Kennedy Space Center, said he plans to expand the annual meeting of the worlds most economically advanced nations to include Australia, India, Russia and South Korea, according to a pool report.
“I dont feel that as a G7 it properly represents whats going on in the world,” Trump said. “Its a very outdated group of countries.”
The group included Russia until its membership was suspended in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday declined Trumps invitation to attend a Washington summit rescheduled for June, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit at the end of June in Washington. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told POLITICO.
“She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”
Merkels refusal to accept Trumps invitation is the latest in a long line of examples of the difficult relationship between the two leaders. Trump has repeatedly criticized Germany, and Merkel specifically, over issues ranging from Berlins trade surplus to its defense spending and commitment to NATO. Merkel has pointedly and publicly taken issue with the Trump administrations unilateral approach to a range of foreign policy issues, from climate change to the Iran nuclear deal.
In a call between Trump and Merkel this week, the two leaders had heated disagreements on topics including NATO, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, and relations with China, according to a senior U.S. official, who declined to be named. Seibert, the German spokesman, did not respond to a question about whether the conversation was heated.
Merkels refusal to attend the summit in person risks scuppering Trumps attempts to present the gathering as a landmark moment drawing a line under the lockdowns and travel bans imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump canceled the summit in March due to the crisis and said he would host a videconference instead. But in a tweet on May 20, he said he might reschedule the summit, proclaiming, “It would be a great sign to all — normalization!”
Trump had indicated he wanted to hold portions of the June gathering in person at the White House and Camp David.
Officials said Merkels reluctance to attend the G7 summit was primarily based on the ongoing health situation. But they also said European G7 leaders are concerned that Trump may simply want toRead More – Source