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article imageTrump calls for end to Russian expulsion from G7

By AFP     Jun 8, 2018 in Politics

US President Donald Trump further broke ranks with Group of Seven allies Friday, calling for Russian expulsion from the bloc to end.

Departing the White House for a fractious summit with European, Canadian and Japanese leaders, Trump said their 2014 decision to suspend Russia from the group of the world's most advanced economies -- after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea region -- should be reversed.

"I have been Russia's worst nightmare," Trump claimed, "but with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting.

"Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?

"I would recommend -- it's up to them. But Russia should be in the meeting, should be a part of it."

Trump's comments received swift backing from Italy's new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti and fellow G7 leader, who tweeted that it was "everyone's interests" for Russia to be brought back into the fold.

The issue is hugely contentious among European allies furious at Russia's support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, assassination plots against Russian dissidents on European soil and meddling in Western elections, including Trump's election in the United States.

The US president has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Russia had any substantive impact on his 2016 election, despite the verdict of his own spy agencies and a major FBI investigation that has looked into his campaign's ties with Russia.

Trump argued that Moscow was too important to isolate.

"They should let Russia come back in. Because we should have Russia at the negotiating table," he said.

Donald Tusk, the European Union's president who is in Quebec for the summit, gave the idea short shrift.

"Let's leave the G7 as it is, it's a lucky number at least in our culture," he told reporters.

Asked for a reaction to Conti's comments, Tusk replied: "I'm convinced that the G7 will have a fully united European position, including on Russia."

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