Obama sets up Ukraine crisis summit
Published 18/03/2014 | 14:27
President Barack Obama has invited allied leaders for an emergency meeting in Europe next week to discuss further action in response to Russia's involvement in Ukraine.
It comes as world economic powers consider whether Moscow should keep its membership in their organisation.
Mr Obama wants to gather leaders of the Group of Seven nations and the European Union to meet on the sidelines of a nuclear summit next week in the Netherlands, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
Russia is one of 53 countries which will participate in the nuclear meeting in The Hague.
In a statement, Ms Hayden said the meeting "will focus on the situation in Ukraine and further steps that the G7 may take to respond to developments and to support Ukraine".
The G7 includes the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Canada. Russia joined to form the G8 in the 1990s, but has been a bit of an odd man out at their annual meetings.
The G8 has been eclipsed in recent years by the G20, which includes China and emerging markets and was created to better represent the drivers of the 21st century global economy.
Russia has the G8's rotating leadership and is scheduled to host a summit in Sochi in June, but the other members already had suspended preparations for that meeting over objections to its involvement in Ukraine.
US officials had been mulling the idea of an emergency summit since at least the weekend, depending upon how Russian president Vladimir Putin proceeded in Ukraine.
The White House announced plans for the meeting shortly after he signed a treaty to incorporate Ukraine's Crimea region into Russia's map.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said G8 leaders have decided to suspend Russia's participation because of its incursion into Crimea, although other member countries said no decision has been made about Russia's future in the group.
Britain's Foreign Office said Russia is still part of the G8 but did not rule out a suspension.
"The G7 collectively made clear last week that we would take further action should the Russian Federation seek to annex Crimea," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "We are keeping this under review and talking to G7 partners."