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Trump would ‘certainly’ invite Putin to next G7 summit

Trump would ‘certainly’ invite Putin to next G7 summit
US President Donald Trump said he would “certainly” invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year’s G7 summit as a guest. However, Trump noted that as a “proud person” Putin might not accept the invite.

Trump, speaking to reporters Monday during a press conference following the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, said that as the summit host next year, he would “certainly” invite the Russian leader along.

There were a lot of things that we were discussing and it would have been easy if Russia were in the room... Yesterday we were discussing four or five matters, and Russia was literally involved in all of those… matters.

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Five years ago, Putin would have been in the room as Russia was a member of what was then known as the G8. Following the breakout of the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s reunification with Crimea, President Barack Obama blamed Moscow for a “contravention of international law.” What happened next has been described in the West as Russia’s “suspension” or “expulsion” from the club, while Moscow said the rest of the group simply didn’t show up for the planned G8 meeting in Sochi.

But despite his willingness to “invite” the Russian president to the 2020 meeting, Trump said that Putin is unlikely to attend as a guest.

“Those are tough circumstances. He was a part of G8, and all of a sudden he’s out,” Trump explained. “That’s a pretty tough thing for him. He’s a proud person.”

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Trump then had a brief verbal spat with a journalist for saying that Obama “got outsmarted” by Putin when Crimea rejoined Russia.

Trump had hinted at Russia’s return at last year’s summit too, but in the runup to this weekend’s event, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that it would be a “strategic error” and a sign of “weakness” to “readmit” Putin to the club.

READ MORE: German MPs want Moscow back in G8, say peace in Europe possible ‘only with Russia’

Hosting next year’s summit in the midst of a reelection campaign, Trump will need to balance his desire to see Putin back among his former peers, with an American media that will doubtless cry “collusion” should the Russian leader show up. Pressed on this by reporters on Monday, Trump replied “I don’t do things for political reasons ...whether I win or not I have to do the right thing.”

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On Moscow’s end, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not mention whether Putin would attend next year as Trump’s guest, but said on Monday that it would be “impossible” for Russia to rejoin the group of leaders on the invitation of “just one country.”

“For Russia, membership in G7 or return to the G7 is not a goal in itself,” he told reporters.

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