US President Donald Trump said on Friday Russia should also be attending a Group of Seven nations summit, as he prepared to fly into a chilly reception at the meeting in Canada, where other G7 leaders are set to clash with him over trade.
Russia was expelled from what was then called the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Trump said it should be readmitted.
“You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run and the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out, they can let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” he told reporters before leaving Washington.
Other G7 leaders, including host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have been critical of Trump’s trade policy ahead of the summit, condemning his administration’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from allies including Canada and the European Union.
Trump’s presidency has been clouded by a federal investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by Trump’s campaign. Both Moscow and Trump have denied any such activity.
Trump was scheduled to leave the G7 meeting early on Saturday, to prepare for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday. The group consists of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain.
New Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte threw his weight behind Trump’s call for Russia to be included once more in Group of Seven meetings.
“I agree with President (Trump). Russia should be re-admitted into the G8. It is in the interests of everyone,” Conte said in a tweet from Canada where he is due to make his international debut as Italian leader at a summit of world power leaders.
The Italian government, backed by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League, has already signalled it is likely to adopt a pro-Russian line in its foreign policy and has called for an end to economic sanctions on Moscow.