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Iran Press TV

G7 disagrees Russia's return, Trump pushes for invitation

Iran Press TV

Mon Aug 26, 2019 09:10AM

US President Donald Trump has sparked yet another row with his fellow leaders of the Group of Seven nations, known as G7, when he aired his demand to invite Russia back to the International leaders gathering.

Five years after the group of advanced economies excluded Moscow from the group Trump's idea to invite Moscow back led to heated exchanges at a dinner on Saturday night , diplomatic sources at the summit in France said,

According to the sources, the US president argued strenuously that they should invite Russian president, Vladimir Putin, back to group.

Trump, who will host next year's summit, floated the idea again later on Sunday when asked whether he would invite Putin to the gathering in the US.

"It's certainly possible, we'll see," he said.

The US president, however, did not receive any support from the attendees, other than from the outgoing Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, according to the sources.

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, remained neutral on the subject.

The other members, Britain, France, Germany and Canada firmly rejected the idea.

"The leaders of the G7 are in favor of reinforcing coordination with Russia on current crises (but) … it is too early for re-integration," according to sources.

European Council President, Donald Tusk, also ruled out the possibility of Russia's return, saying that "under no condition" would Moscow be invited.

The group – formerly known as G8 – excluded Russia after Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014.

The reunification came after a referendum, where more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of the move, but the West branded the move as "annexation" of Ukrainian land by Russia.

The West also accused Russia of involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, allegations strongly rejected by Russia.

In siding with Ukraine, the European Union has followed Washington's lead in leveling several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.

In a reaction to the idea of Russia's return to the G7, Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said "Nothing has changed since March, 2014, when Russia's participation in the G8 was stopped."

Canada also opposed Russia's reintegration, with the Foreign Ministry saying that the position of Canada toward Russia remains unchanged.

"As Foreign Minister of Canada stated in public, five years ago Russia illegally invaded and annexed Crimea. This violation of the international law, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine is a fair price for Russia for its place at G7," said spokesperson of the ministry, Stefano Maron.

Trump has been calling for Moscow's return to the group since the G7 summit in Quebec last year.

Russia's return, however, was only one of the points of disagreement between the group's leaders. Among the many differences, Washington's tensions with Iran and the trade war with China, dominated the summit in Biarritz, southwestern France.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, invited Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, for a visit at the sidelines of the summit in Biarritz

This was a surprise for Trump, who escalated tensions with Iran after he unilaterally pulled his country out of an international nuclear deal signed between Iran and the world powers, in May last year and stepped up sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

During a TV address on Sunday, Macron said, "To avoid escalation, we must continue to take initiatives."

He said, "We have agreed on a joint communication and a course of action which reconciles the different positions." But when that was put to Trump he denied any plan had his backing.

Trump stays out of Amazon fire discussion

Leaders of the group said Sunday that they are preparing to help Brazil battle fires which have been ravaging the Amazon rainforest over the past three weeks.

Trump, however, preferred to distance himself from the discussion over his friendship with Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro, who is under intense criticism for his handling of the disaster so far.

The US president has formerly offered to help Brazil tackle the blaze, but fell short of criticizing Bolsonaro.

Trying to downplay the difference, the French president said that they were close to an agreement on how to help fight the Amazon forest fires and try to repair the devastation.

"There's a real convergence to say: 'let's all agree to help those countries hit by these fires'," said Macron.

Last week Macron accused Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, of not doing enough to protect the area and of lying about its environmental commitments.

"There are several sensitivities which were raised around the table because all of that also depends on the Amazon countries," he said.

German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said the G7 leaders "cannot be silent" in the face of fires in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro, who has been dubbed the "Trump of the Tropics" for imitating the US president's stance on climate change, stands accused of encouraging the destruction of the world's greatest tropical forest.

Both leaders have already advocated using protected natural areas for their resources prompting environmental experts to describe them as threats to the global natural habitat.

US-China trade war

An even bigger issue dividing the US from the rest of the group was trade and Trump's effort to force even close allies into hard negotiations on market access and tariffs.

Trump arrived at the summit shortly after announcing fresh tariffs on Chinese products as part of an escalating trade war with Beijing.

European leaders lined up to warn the trade war could lead to a recession and destroy trust among the Western nations.

Trump, on Sunday, suggested that he was reconsidering his all-or-nothing approach to the dispute with China, when he appeared to admit he'd had "second thoughts" about the most recent escalation.

His spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, however, said later that the president had been misunderstood and that his real regret was not to have raised tariffs on China even more strongly.

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, keen to reach a trade agreement with the US after Brexit, said in a meeting with Trump that London was more interested in a "trade peace" and reducing tariffs.

G7 protesters take to the streets

In the meantime, thousands of protesters took to the streets in the town of Hendaye – on the French border with Spain – to demand action from G7 leaders.

Demonstrators marched in protest against the economic and climate policies pursued by the world's leading industrial nations.

Environmental activists, yellow vest protesters and anti-globalization protesters were among the demonstrators.

Organizers estimated at least 15,000 people took to the streets.

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