Trump, acknowledging his view “may not be politically correct,” told reporters before leaving for the summit: “We have a world to run and the G-7, which used to be the G-8 ― they threw Russia out. Russia should be in this meeting. They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
Russia was expelled from what had been the G-8 in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea.
Trump’s comment was in line with his unusually friendly stance toward Russia, despite evidence that it interfered in the 2016 election to help his campaign.
The prospects of Russia being readmitted to the G-7 are dim. Just two months ago, G-7 foreign ministers pledged to set up a working group to “call out” Russian “maligned behavior.”
Even before his Russia comment, Trump was at odds with fellow G-7 leaders on trade and other issues. He imposed a series of steel and aluminum tariffs on several G-7 countries to redress what he said in a tweet Friday was a “long time unfair trade practiced against the United States.”
“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” Macron tweeted Thursday. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”
Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne gave a more dramatic assessment of Trump’s trade moves, saying “the world economic order is ... under attack.”