US president Donald Trump said Saturday he will postpone a meeting of Group of 7 nations until fall, and called for an expansion of the group's membership because he considers it an outdated group that doesn't properly represent what is taking place in the world. Trump singled out Russia, Australia, South Korea and India as possible additions.
The G7 members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. G7 is a forum of the seven countries with the world's largest and most advanced economies. Heads of states of these countries meet annually on international economic and monetary issues.
The US holds the presidency of the G7 this year. During the summit, the G7 president normally invites heads of states of one or two countries to attend the meeting as a special invitee. Last year French President Emanuel Macron had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the summit.
The leaders of the world's major economies were slated to meet in the US this year, but the coronavirus outbreak has hobbled those plans. Trump told reporters, travelling with him onboard the Air Force One from Florida to Washington DC, that he is "postponing it until September" and plans to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India. "I don't feel that as a G7 it properly represents what's going on in the world. It's a very outdated group of countries," he said. Alyssa Alexandra Farah, White House Director of Strategic Communications, said that this is bringing together "our traditional allies" to talk about how to deal with the future of China.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office had said on Saturday that she would not attend the summit unless the course of the coronavirus spread had changed by then. But, Trump had wanted an in-person G7 summit in America near the end of June.
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"The president wants to see this [G7] take place," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday during a news conference here. "As America reopens, as we try to approach a place of normalcy where people go back to work, where people do recreational activities but socially distant while they do it, the president thinks no greater example of reopening in this transition to greatness would be the G7, and G7 happening here and happening probably more towards the end of June," McEnany said.