President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his push to re-invite Russia to the Group of Seven summit later this year — arguing that President Vladimir Putin’s inclusion at the annual meeting of the most economically advanced countries is a matter of “common sense.”
“He’s not there. Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia, and if he was there, it’d be much easier to solve. He used to be,” Trump told “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade on his Fox News radio show.
The problem is, many of the things that we talk about are about Putin, so we’re just sitting around wasting time because then you have to finish your meeting and somebody has to call Putin or deal with Putin on different things,” the president added. “And I say, have him in the room. Have him in the room.”
Trump late last month announced plans to expand the G7 to include four additional nations — Australia, India, Russia and South Korea — and indicated he would postpone this year’s summit, which the United States is scheduled to host, until sometime before November’s general election.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both expressed their opposition to the readmission of Russia, which was suspended from what was previously the Group of Eight after illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Trump has repeatedly blamed Russia’s exclusion from the group on former President Barack Obama, and said Wednesday his White House predecessor “got taken over to the cleaners” and “had his pockets picked” by Putin during diplomatic dealings.
Trump also said that while “it’s not a question of what [Putin has] done,” he suggested the Russian president partly earned a seat at the group’s table for having “helped us with the oil industry, which was good for him, too.”
OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations in April finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels in a bid to boost crashing prices amid the coronavirus pandemic and a price war.
On Wednesday, OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to a preliminary deal to extend existing output cuts while raising pressure on countries with poor compliance to deepen their reductions, Reuters reported.