President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he thought Russia should be reinstated as a member of the G8. Russia was kicked out of the group, which is now known as the G7, after the Russian annexation of Crimea.
What did President Trump say?
As he was leaving the White House heading for the summit, Trump told reporters:
Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend, but it's up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting, and 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 in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.
Trump on G-7: "Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? ... Russia should be in the meeting." pic.twitter.com/jvhgH3Gi06
— Axios (@axios) June 8, 2018
What is the G7?
The G7, or "Group of Seven," is currently made up of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Those seven nations combined make up 62 percent of the entire planet's net worth, with around $280 trillion. Every year, the members of the group hold a summit to discuss economic matters.
This year, the summit will be Friday and Saturday in Quebec, Canada.
Why was Russia kicked out?
In 2014, Russia forcibly took the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in violation of international law. In response, the other G8 members agreed to punish Russia by kicking it out of the summit.
What are critics saying?
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) sharply criticized the president's suggestion:
This is weak. [Valdimir] Putin is not our friend and he is not the President's buddy. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America, and our leaders should act like it.
While Trump's relationship with some of the G7 members has reportedly been tense, one quickly came to his defense. The new Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, agreed that it would be in "everyone's interest" for Russia to rejoin the group.
Trump has also feuded on Twitter this week with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, who are both attending this year's summit.