U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand to readmit Russia into the G7 group of advanced industrial economies led to “heated exchanges” at the group's annual summit over the weekend, media reports have said.
Russia had been a member of the G8 until 2014, when the country was excluded over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Trump said it was “certainly possible” he could invite President Vladimir Putin to the G7’s 2020 summit in the U.S., an invitation that the Kremlin said it would consider.
The G7 summit in France “became a bit tense, to say the least” after Trump’s proposal to invite Putin, an unnamed European diplomat told The Guardian newspaper Sunday.
French, British, German and Canadian leaders, as well as the head of the European Union, reportedly pushed back against Trump’s suggestion, insisting that the G7 remain "a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies."
“[F]or that reason, they said, you cannot allow President Putin – who does not represent that – back in,” the unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying.
Trump “doesn’t share that view” and “had a really kind of fundamental difference about this,” the diplomat added. Instead, according to the account, the U.S. president argued that Russia should be involved in discussions surrounding Syria, Iran and North Korea.
Only Italy’s outgoing prime minister had reportedly backed Trump’s idea to readmit Russia, while Japan’s prime minister remained neutral.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday maintained that Moscow doesn’t plan to lobby for the revival of the G8, saying “life has long moved on.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later echoed Lavrov's comments, saying that Russia rejoining the group “is not a goal in itself.”