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EU says US cannot allow Russia back in G7

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
EU officials arrive to give a joint press conference after a G7 leaders’ videoconference on COVID-19, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 16, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union (EU) says the United States cannot change the rules of the Group of Seven (G7) on its own and allow Russia back in the body as a member.

An unnamed EU spokesman said on Tuesday that the bloc viewed the G7 as a vital multilateral framework that could not be changed on a permanent basis by the chair of the group, currently the United States, Reuters reported.

The group — formerly known as the G8 — expelled Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine back in 2014.

“Russia’s participation in the G8 has been suspended until Russia changes course and the environment allows for the G8 to again have a meaningful discussion. This is not currently the case,” the spokesman said.

This came after US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he would postpone a G7 summit until September or later, adding that he wanted to add Australia, Russia, South Korea, and India to the list of invitees.

He also described the G7 as a “very outdated group of countries” in its current format.

“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that, as a G7, it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.

Trump has been calling for Moscow’s return to the group since the G7 summit in Quebec last year, citing Moscow’s global strategic importance.

The EU spokesman said, “While it is the prerogative of the G7 chair — in this case the United States — to issue guest invitations, which reflects the host’s priorities, changing membership or format on a permanent basis is not.”

Britain and Canada have in particular firmly rejected the idea of letting Russia back into the forum.

The G7 summit, which the US hosts this year, convenes the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK to discuss matters of co-operation.

G7 finance ministers are expected to meet online on Wednesday with the leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to mitigate its economic fallout.

India, Australia, and South Korea have said they received invitations to attend the expanded G7 summit.

Moscow, however, has said it needs more details before responding to Trump’s proposal to invite Russia to attend the summit.

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