Trump Calls for Russia to Rejoin G7, Exacerbating Rift with Allies

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

President Trump called on allies to reinstate Russia as part of the G7 Friday, deepening a rift over trade policy that spilled out on Twitter just days ahead of the summit in Canada.

“Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump told reporters at the White House immediately before departing for the summit. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend — and it’s up to them — but Russia should be in the meeting, it should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run and the G-7 — which used to be the G-8, they threw Russia out — they should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Russia was expelled from the G7 in 2014 in retaliation for its annexation of the Crimean peninsula — a violation of international law that drew universal condemnation from U.S. allies.

The unexpected show of support for Russia came after Trump traded blows on Twitter with French president Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau over a perceived imbalance in the trade relationship between the United States and its allies.

Following the Twitter spat, the White House announced late Thursday that Trump would not attend a session dedicated to climate change on Saturday morning, announcing that he would instead fly directly to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong-un.

The public back-and-forth came days after the Trump administration imposed significant steel and aluminum tariffs on a number of U.S. allies, including European Union nations and Canada, after initially exempting the countries from the protectionist measure. Both Canada and the E.U. have challenged Trump’s national-security justification for the tariffs in complaints filed with the World Trade Organization, and both have also announced retaliatory tariffs.

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