Quebec City, June 9 (IANS) The President of the European Council on Friday rejected a call by the US President and Italy’s new Prime Minister to allow Russia back into the G-8, a club of industrialized nations that became the Group of Seven (G7) when Moscow was suspended in 2014.
“Let’s leave seven as it is. It’s a lucky number,” Donald Tusk said shortly before the start of the G7 summit here.
Tusk predicted that the summit would be the most difficult in years and lamented that the “rules-based international order is being challenged” by current US President Donald Trump, Efe reported.
Trump had earlier said that Russia should be allowed back into the G8.
Moscow was suspended after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, an area with a Russian-majority population that became part of Ukraine in 1954.
“I have been Russia’s worst nightmare … but with that being said Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?” Trump said at the White House shortly before departing for the G7 summit, which will take place on Friday and Saturday in a town outside Quebec City.
“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run” and Russia “should be at the negotiating table,” said the US President, who since taking office has faced allegations of collusion between his 2016 election campaign and the Russian government.
Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who heads a populist coalition that has called for an end to some European Union sanctions on Russia, backed Trump’s proposal.
“I agree with President Trump: Russia should return to the G8. It’s in everybody’s interest,” Conte, who also is attending the summit, tweeted.
Trump’s attendance at the G7 gathering comes amid tensions over new steel and aluminum tariffs the US has imposed on some of its closest allies, including the European Union and summit host Canada.
In a message earlier on Friday on Twitter, Trump said the talks at the summit would “mostly center on the long time unfair trade practiced against the US.”