Wednesday 24 October 2018

Trump calls for return of Russia to the G7 ‘table’

US President Donald Trump is greeted by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada. Photo: GettyGetty Images
US President Donald Trump is greeted by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada. Photo: GettyGetty Images

Nick Allen

Donald Trump yesterday threw the Canadian G7 summit into chaos by calling for Vladimir Putin to be re-admitted to the group and making a series of critical comments about other world leaders.

As he headed to the summit of G7 nations - the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, Italy, Germany and France - the US president said: "Russia should be in the meeting. Why are we having a meeting without them? Russia should be a part of it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the summit. Photo: Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the summit. Photo: Getty Images

"You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run.

"It doesn't matter what you call it. It used to be the G8. They threw Russia out. They should let Russia back in. We should have Russia at the negotiating table. We have a world to run," he said.

But European leaders insisted that Russia should not be allowed back in, highlighting "malign" actions such as the Salisbury spy poisoning.

After arriving late, the president was expected to leave early to fly to his meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

Donald Tusk arrives for the summit with his wife Malgorzata. Photo: Getty Images
Donald Tusk arrives for the summit with his wife Malgorzata. Photo: Getty Images

The summit in Quebec, Canada, saw Mr Trump clash with European leaders over Russia, US tariffs on steel and the Iran nuclear deal before it had even formally begun.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister and host of the summit, condemned the Russia comments.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, accused the US president of "playing into the hands" of those who want to undermine democracy.

Mr Tusk said: "What worries me most, however, is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged, surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor - the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Getty Images

"We will not stop trying to convince President Trump that undermining this order makes no sense at all. It will only play into the hands of those who seek a new post-West order, where liberal democracy and fundamental freedoms will cease to exist.

"This is in the interests of neither the US or Europe. Even in difficult times like these there is still more that unites than divides us.

Adversaries

"It is far too early for our enemies and adversaries to celebrate."

The comments were also condemned by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been pressing world leaders to take a tougher line on Russia in the wake of the Salisbury spy poisoning.

She said: "I have always said we should engage with Russia, but my phrase is 'engage, but beware'. We have seen malign activity from Russia in a whole variety of ways, of course including on the streets of Salisbury. So we need to say, I think, before any such conversations can take place, Russia needs to change its approach."

However, Giuseppe Conte, the new Italian prime minister who is pro-Russia, has supported Mr Trump's calls.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating whether associates of Mr Trump's presidential campaign colluded with Russia in a bid to sway the 2016 US presidential election.

Russia was ousted from the elite group in 2014 as punishment for Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea, and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

The G7 leaders yesterday agree to share information between themselves and work with internet service providers and social media companies to thwart foreign meddling in elections in their countries.

The agreement also commits the G7 nations to ensuring high transparency of funding for political parties and all political advertising, especially during election campaigns.

The agreement was a robust response to counteract the hostile actions of nations such as Russia, which interfered in the elections of the United States and some European Union countries through internet sites and social media. Moscow has denied the allegations. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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