World

Canada, Britain not interested in Russia attending G7 despite another Trump trial balloon

Britain's government would not support readmitting Russia as a member of the G7, but it is up to the host country of any summit to decide which leaders it invites as a guest, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

For at least the 3rd time, the U.S. president has pushed for Russian involvement in the summit

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump, seen at the 2019 Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, are on friendly terms but disagree on Russia taking part in the next G7 talks. (Stefan Rousseau/Reuters)

Britain's government would not support readmitting Russia as a member of the G7, but it is up to the host country of any summit to decide which leaders it invites as a guest, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later, and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

Johnson's spokesperson said the prime minister would wait to see what the United States proposed.

"We will look at the detail of what the U.S. is proposing. It is customary for the country that holds the G7 presidency to invite other leaders to participate as guests in the summit," he told reporters.

"Russia was removed from the G7 group of nations following its [2014] annexation of Crimea and we are yet to see evidence of changed behaviour which would justify its readmittance … We wouldn't support it being readmitted as a member of the group."

WATCH l No change on Russia at the G7, Trudeau says:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada does not support Russia returning to the G7 because the country continues to defy international law. 0:39

Later in the day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a similar answer to a reporter's question.

"Russia was excluded from the G7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago, and its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7, and it will continue to remain out," Trudeau said during his daily news conference.

Trudeau said the G20 group, which includes Russia, was a forum that included countries "we don't necessarily have great relations with."

"The G7 has always been a place for frank conversations with allies and friends who share so much. That's certainly what I'm hoping to continue to see."

Russia awaits more information from U.S.

Trump told President Vladimir Putin in a phone call about his idea of holding an expanded summit with a possible invitation for Russia, the Kremlin said on Monday.

Earlier, the top government spokesperson said Russia needed more details before responding to Trump's proposal publicly.

"President Putin is a supporter of dialogue in all directions, but in this case, in order to respond to such initiatives, we need to receive more information, which we unfortunately do not have," said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

 Peskov said that Moscow needed to know what might be on the agenda of the proposed meeting and its format, before responding.

In this June 28, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014 when Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, was U.S. president. Russia still holds Crimea, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to readmit Moscow.

Peskov said other formats such as the G20 give Russia a platform to discuss international issues with other countries.

"There are very comfortable and effective mechanisms for all participants for international dialogue, such as the G20, which allows the world's leading economies to discuss the most pressing problems," he said.

Some Russian analysts believe Moscow should regard Trump's potential invitation with skepticism.

"Trump's intention to invite Putin as a guest of the #G7 makes no sense for Russia. All blame, no gain is what it'll get. This chapter should remain closed," Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a former colonel in the Russian army, wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

It is not the first time Trump has proposed Russia rejoining the other nations.

"For most of the time it was the G8, it included Russia, and President Obama didn't want Russia in because he got outsmarted. Well, that's not the way it really should work," Trump said in August 2019.

South Korea accepts

He also mused about a Russian invitation to the G7 summit in Quebec City in 2018, a meeting marked by friction.

Trump's position on the matter has raised eyebrows, and not just for being less concerned than other Western allies about the Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Trump's presidential campaign was found in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller to have been open to Russian attempts to discredit Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Trump on Monday that he would willingly accept the American leader's invitation to join the summit, South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Trump and Moon spoke by phone, the Blue House said.

Trump, left, is shown with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 30, 2019. Moon has accepted Trump's invitation to appear at the next G7 summit, the South Korean government said. (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool/The Associated Press)

The leaders of the world's major economies were slated to meet in June in the U.S. at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. Trump had expressed disinterest in a virtual meeting due to the pandemic, and announced the postponement on the weekend.

The president announced last October the summit would be held at Trump National Doral Miami in Florida, but the change was eventually made to Camp David after considerable criticism, even from some Republicans.

With files from CBC News

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