President Donald Trump on Saturday announced that the Group of Seven summit of world leaders would be postponed until at least September.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," Trump said, according to a press pool report. He also said he'd like to invite additional countries, including Russia, Australia, South Korea and India, to attend the summit.
Russia was ejected from what was then the G8 in 2014 as punishment for the annexation of Crimea. While Trump has repeatedly advocated for Russia's return, other world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have objected to the move.
The House also passed a bipartisan resolution in December 2019 that supports Russia's previous expulsion from the annual gathering.
Trump said he had not yet set a new date for the meeting, but thought the gathering could take place in September, around the time of the annual meeting of the United Nations in New York, or perhaps after the U.S. election in November.
His announcement came a day after the Associated Press and other news outlets reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not attend a meeting in-person amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that he was considering rescheduling the G7 for June at Camp David in Washington as a sign of “normalization.” But on Friday, Merkel refused the invitation, citing the continued risk of the pandemic.
"The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit at the end of June in Washington. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington," a German government spokesman told Politico.
G7 is the nickname for the informal group of seven large industrialized countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — that meet periodically to discuss global matters.
Originally scheduled for June 2020, Trump said in March the event would be held virtually before later changing his mind and reviving the idea of an in-person event this summer.
Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, told the AP that Trump wanted to bring in some of the country's traditional allies and those impacted by the coronavirus to discuss the future of China.