President Donald Trump derailed a major meeting with world leaders at the annual Group of Seven summit on Saturday evening after he insisted that Russia should be reinvited to the international gathering, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
At a dinner in Biarritz, France, the president interrupted talks of the fires in the Amazon and Iran’s nuclear capacity by advocating for Russia to be readmitted to the gathering of industrialized nations. Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine that violated international laws and agreements.
Trump’s comments initiated a discussion at the dinner about “whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy,” The Post reported, citing officials. While most of the world leaders staunchly believed they should, Trump didn’t.
A senior official at the meeting told The Post that Trump crossed his arms and appeared to take a more combative stance as multiple leaders rejected his comments.
“The consequence is the same as if one of the participants is a dictator,” an official told The Post. “No community of like-minded leaders who are pulling together.”
Officials told The Post that at least two of the leaders present — Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, and Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s acting prime minister — did not push back against Trump’s position.
On Sunday morning, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised French President Emmanuel Macron’s performance at the dinner. “You did very well there last night. My God, that was a difficult one,” Johnson said, according to The Post.
Trump on Monday said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year’s summit.
“Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him,” he told reporters.
“Whether or not he could come, psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do,” because Putin is “a proud person,” he said.
The US is set to host next year’s G7 gathering, so Trump may have the power to unilaterally reinvite Putin.
Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and other leaders have made clear that they wouldn’t consider supporting Russia’s readmittance unless the country helps promote peace in Ukraine.
“One year ago, in Canada, President Trump suggested reinviting Russia to the G7, stating openly that Crimea’s annexation by Russia was partially justified. And that we should accept this fact. Under no condition can we agree with this logic,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, told reporters over the weekend.
Trump argued last week that it didn’t make sense to exclude Russia from the gathering “because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”
Trump hasn’t mentioned Crimea or suggested that Russia would need to make any concessions to rejoin the group, but has repeatedly said that President Barack Obama was “outsmarted” by Russia and demanded the country’s exclusion.