Russia should be part of the Group of Seven again, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, suggesting that President Barack Obama pushed the country out because he didn’t like that President Vladimir Putin had “outsmarted” him.
Russia was suspended from what was then known as the G8 — representing the world’s most industrialized and developed economies — in 2014 after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, but both Putin and Trump have downplayed G7 leaders’ criticisms of Russia.
“I’ve gone to numerous G7 meetings, and I guess … because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday at the White House. “He wanted Russia out, but I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in and it should be the G8.”
It wasn’t clear what specifically Trump was referring to in his mention of Obama. He added that he would support a motion to reinclude Russia.
It wasn’t the first time Trump called for Russia to rejoin the group. At last year’s G7 summit in Canada, he told a news conference that “it would be an asset to have Russia back in.”
The comments on Tuesday come after repeated clashes with other leaders in the G7. Last year, the president tweeted that he had instructed U.S. officials to disavow a G7 summit statement already finalized at the gathering in Quebec. President Emmanuel Macron of France hit back, maintaining that all of Europe would continue to support the statement.
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