EU balks at adding Russia back into G7Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 03-06-2020 01:42 IST | Created: 03-06-2020 01:25 IST
The European Union on Tuesday rejected any suggestion that the Group of Seven advanced economies could be expanded to include Russia and warned Washington that it could not change the rules for the group on its own. U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday dismissed the G7 as a "very outdated group of countries" and said he would invite the leaders of Australia, Russia, South Korea, and India to join a leaders summit now postponed to September.
The EU said it viewed the G7 as a vital multilateral framework that cannot be changed on a permanent basis by the chair of the group, currently the United States, an EU spokesman said on Tuesday. "Russia's participation in the G8 has been suspended until Russia changes course and the environment allows for the G8 to again have a meaningful discussion. This is not currently the case," the spokesman said.
Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight in 2014 when Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, was U.S. president after Moscow annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia still holds the territory, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to re-admit Moscow. "While it is the prerogative of the G7 chair – in this case, the United States - to issue guest invitations, which reflects the host's priorities, changing membership or format on a permanent basis is not," the spokesman said.
Britain and Canada have also spoken out in opposition to the idea of letting Russia back into the forum. And Moscow itself said Trump's proposal to invite Russia to an expanded Group of Seven summits later this year raised questions, but its diplomats would seek clarification from Washington.
G7 finance ministers are slated to meet online on Wednesday with the leaders of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to discuss the novel coronavirus pandemic and efforts to mitigate the economic fallout. India, Australia, and South Korea have said they received invitations to attend the expanded G7 summit.