Donald Trump has said he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later, and plans to include India, Australia, Russia and South Korea in the event.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that, as a G7, it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” the US president told on aboard Air Force One on Saturday (30).
“It’s a very outdated group of countries.”
Describing the event as a “G-10 or G-11”, Trump said he had “roughly” broached the topic with leaders of the four other countries.
The announcement came just days after reports said the British government was proposing a “D10” club of democratic partners – including G7 countries (UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada) and Australia, South Korea and India – to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.
It was unclear whether Trump‘s desire to invite the additional countries was a bid to permanently expand the G7. On several previous occasions, he suggested Russia be added, given what he called Moscow’s global strategic importance.
Russia had been expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014, after Moscow annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia still holds the territory, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to readmit Moscow.
White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said Trump wanted the countries to discuss China at the summit.
Trump has attacked Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China, and on Friday he ordered his administration to begin the process of ending special US treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for 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, who had sought to host the group of major industrialised countries in Washington as a demonstration that the US was returning to normal after the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 103,000 Americans to date.
Trump had cancelled an in-person G7 meeting 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, according to the White House, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to endorse it, saying there were too many health-related questions. This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not attend.
South Korea was aware of Trump‘s invitation and will discuss the matter with the US, said a government official in Seoul.
The G7 groups the US, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, and the European Union also attends.