(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said he wants to invite Russia’s Vladimir Putin to next year’s Group of Seven summit because having the country “in the room is better than having them outside.”
“My inclination is to say, ‘Yes, they should be in,’” Trump said Monday in Biarritz, France, at the conclusion of this year’s G-7 meetings.
Trump has previously called for fully readmitting Russia into what was once the G-8. The bloc’s other members have balked at welcoming back Russia, which was kicked out over its hostilities in Ukraine five years ago.
On Monday, Trump again blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted,” Trump said. “It could have been stopped with the right whatever.”
The U.S. will host next year’s G-7. Trump recently polled his cabinet on whether the U.S. should invite Russia to those meetings, an idea that his team voted against, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Putin already has said at a news conference that if an invitation comes, he will be sure to consider it, RIA Novosti reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The G-8 meetings had become the G-7 since 2014, when Russia was excluded from the group. Countries regularly attend the G-7 as observers, without being full members. Spain, Australia, India and Chile are among the guests in Biarritz, for example.
The U.K., Germany, France and Canada all have dismissed the idea of re-introducing Russia as a full member, unless Putin makes concessions on the continuing hostilities in Ukraine.
(Updates with Trump comments starting in second paragraph)
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