US President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he will postpone the June G7 summit in the United States for an unspecified date and invite other countries to join the meeting, including Russia.
"I do not feel that the G7 correctly represents what is going on in the world. It is a very outdated group of countries," Trump told reporters on Air Force One, adding that 'He would like to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to join an enlarged summit in the fall.
This could happen in September, before or after the United Nations General Assembly, added Mr. Trump, adding that he could also "perhaps do it after the presidential election" in November where he will run for a second mandate.
Calling the meeting "G-10 or G-11," Trump said he had "summarily" raised the subject with the leaders of the four countries he wanted to join.
The leaders of the G7, chaired this year by the United States, were to meet by videoconference at the end of June due to the epidemic of coronavirus.
Trump said last week, however, that he could finally organize the big rally, "mainly at the White House" but also potentially in part in the Camp David presidential residence on the outskirts of Washington.
The initial reactions of G7 leaders to this Trump proposal had been cautious.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first leader of the group to formally decline this invitation to attend a summit in the United States in June.
"To date, given the general situation of the pandemic, she cannot accept participation in person, a trip to Washington," a spokesman for the German government told AFP on Saturday.
In the evening, the Elysee Palace said that French President Emmanuel Macron was "available" to go to a G7 summit but in this case wanted "the presence of all".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed last week the importance of studying "the recommendations of the experts".
Donald Trump wants to make a G7 summit with flesh-and-blood leaders the symbol of normalization he calls for, as opposed to blocking activity that could cost him dearly on the electoral front .
The United States is the country most affected by the new coronavirus in terms of number of deaths and cases, with 103,758 deaths (+960 in 24 hours) for 1,769,776 cases, according to the latest report on Saturday evening.
The G7 countries - the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - hold annual meetings to discuss a number of international topics.
Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014, after its annexation of Crimea, which has never been recognized by the international community.
© 2020 AFP