Scott Morrison confirms talks with United States about attending postponed G7 summit

Clay Curtis
June 2, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump hopes to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to the next Group of Seven summit, signaling his desire to find partners as he blames China for the novel coronavirus pandemic. After being isolated at the previous two summits, Trump has called the grouping "outdated"'. Later, aides indicated he was seeking a larger group that could act as a counterweight to China, whose relationship with the United States reached a nadir last week amid disputes over coronavirus and Hong Kong.

Earlier Saturday, Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss progress on convening the group, according to a White House readout that provided few additional details. Macron and Merkel have been tightly aligned at past G7 meetings in representing European interests.

South Korea is aware of Mr Trump's invitation and will discuss the matter with the United States, a government official in Seoul told Reuters on Sunday.

Trump's announcement comes after he received a mixed and uncertain response from other G7 leaders on attending the summit.

US President has suggested the inclusion of India, Australia, South Korea and Russian Federation, while the United Kingdom proposal wants the G-7 to exclude Russian Federation and include the three democracies of India, Australia and South Korea.

"The president wants to see this [G7] take place", White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday during a news conference here.

Mr Trump cancelled the initially-planned meeting, before last week saying he was considering holding it again on a similar date, and expressing a wish for it to be a face-to-face gathering, rather than be conducted by video conferencing.

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The initial announcement drew skeptical responses from foreign capitals as governments waited for the United States to spell out what safety measures would be in place for the in-person summit.

He said the current prime minister's willingness to join the G7 demonstrates Morrison's understanding that Australia will emerge from the pandemic "stronger than many other countries". Normally such a major meeting requires many months of planning that was going to be compressed into a month's time.

The White House had previously said the huge diplomatic gathering would be a "show of strength" when world economies are reemerging from shutdowns. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to travel to the USA for the G7 summit at Camp David next month.

"Maybe I'll do it after the election", Trump said.

India, which attended the G7 meet in Biarritz, France, in August a year ago, had been invited by Trump to attend the meet this June.

Describing the event as a "G-10 or G-11", Trump said he had "roughly" broached the topic with leaders of the four other countries.

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