US President Donald Trump on 30 May announced the postponement of the Group of Seven (G7) summit, saying that he wanted to hold it in June. Trump said he would expand the list of countries invited to attend the meeting to include India, Australia, Russia and South Korea. “I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.
The US president was talking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington DC from Cape Canaveral in Florida. He said that the G7 in its current format was a “very outdated group of countries”.
On several previous occasions, he had suggested Russia be added because of Moscow’s “global strategic importance”. White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said Trump wanted the countries to discuss China at the summit.
Trump has been attacking China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan of the Hubei province. On 29 May he ordered his administration to begin the process of ending special US treatment for Hong Kong, retaliating to 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. He had sought to host the group of major industrialised countries in Washington to demonstrate that the United States was returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1,03,000 Americans so far.
The president said that he would like to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to join the summit, which could happen in September either before or after the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump said he had “roughly” floated the topic before leaders of the four countries. However, it is not clear whether Trump’s desire to invite the additional countries this year was an effort to permanently expand the G7.
White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah said Trump wanted to bring the other countries to talk about the future of China at the summit. Trump has repeatedly attacked Beijing over its handling of the China-origin coronavirus pandemic.
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, said the White House, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to endorse it, saying there were too many health-related questions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said earlier this week she could not attend the meet.
The G7 is made up of the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada while the European Union attends its summits too.