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Trump calls for Russia to be let back into G7 club of nations

Moscow was expelled from the rich nations club over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Image: Sean Kilpatrick/AP

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump drove the wedge splitting Washington from its Western allies even deeper today with a shock call for Russia to be readmitted to the G7 club of nations.

As the leaders of the top industrialised democracies began meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Quebec, European leaders warned that Trump’s stance threatens the Western-led world order.

Already angered by Trump’s positions on trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal, the other G7 allies now face a rift in the united western front against Russian aggression.

Before jumping on Air Force One to fly to Canada, which is hosting the summit in La Malbaie north of Quebec City, Trump called for a return to the body’s pre-2014 “G8″ formula.

“They threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” the US leader said before boarding the presidential jet.

Moscow was expelled from the rich nations club, which sees itself as a guarantor of rules-based order and the global economy, over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

While Italy’s new premier Giuseppe Conte, the head of a populist coalition, sided with Trump, many other European leaders were horrified and warned against the idea.

“It is evident that the American president and the rest of the group continue to disagree on trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal,” EU president Donald Tusk admitted.

Tusk warned that “the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor, the US.”

And he said Trump’s determination to bait his allies over trade and diplomatic engagements “would only play into the hands of those who seek a new post-West order where liberal democracy and fundamental freedoms would cease to exist.”

Fundamental freedoms

Trump was the last G7 leader to arrive and tomorrow, he will probably be the first to leave, in a hurry to move on to his nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Trade battle lines were drawn even before he arrived in a series of dueling tweets and statements between Trump and his onetime friend French President Emmanuel Macron.

With unmistakable symbolism, the fractious Western democracies were meeting on the same day that China’s President Xi Jinping welcomed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to Beijing.

Three decades after the end of the Cold War, the G7 nations are split over trade, climate and multilateral engagements such as the Iran nuclear deal.

And at the same time, the US president seems more at home with autocrats than with Washington’s traditional allies.

The “America First” president’s broadside before leaving Washington reinforced predictions that the Quebec G7 would be the first such summit to end without an agreed joint statement.

“All of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade,” he said before flying out.

“We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I’ll tell you what, it’s what I do.

“It won’t even be hard and in the end, we’ll all get along.”

Host Canada and its European allies are striving to put together a united front to oppose Trump’s tariffs of aluminum, steel, cars and other exports, but the markets are rattled.

© AFP 2018 

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