June 1, 2020 4:36:10 am
Calling the G7 a “very outdated group”, US President Donald Trump said Sunday he would like to include India, Australia, South Korea and Russia in the grouping of the largest advanced economies.
Trump suggested that the Group of 7 be called “G10 or G11”, and proposed that the grouping meet in September or November this year.
The G7 comprises the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
China on US mind
India has long called for reforming global institutions and groupings to reflect modern-day geopolitical realities. With an assertive China round the corner, the US is calling all like-minded countries to partner in dealing with Beijing.
India, which attended the G7 meet in Biarritz, France, in August last year, had been invited by Trump to attend the meet this June. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to travel to the US for the G7 summit at Camp David next month.
The US President shared his thoughts with reporters on Air Force One on his way home after the launch of the first manned mission into space by a private company, SpaceX.
“I am postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7, it properly represents what’s going on in the world… It’s a very outdated group of countries,” he said.
“We want Australia, we want India, we want South Korea. And what do we have? That’s a nice group of countries right there,” he said, without mentioning Russia.
But he appeared to have suggested inviting Russia as well, according to a report from a pool of reporters that travelled with him.
Trump suggested that the expanded group be called the “G10 or G11”, and said he had “roughly” discussed the idea with the leaders of the four countries he would like to add to the grouping.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed her inability to travel to the US for the G7 summit next month, citing the “pandemic situation”.
The inclusion of four more countries into the G7, which has the world’s largest economies, is a signal to China. This comes at a time when the US and China are in a bruising war of words over a range of issues — from Hong Kong’s autonomy to Taiwan, the origins of Covid-19 to the South China Sea tensions and trade issues.
During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA rule, India attended the G8 five times – Russia was indefinitely suspended in March 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, reducing the count of the G8.
India attended the summit in 2019 when Prime Minister Modi visited France.
An aide to the US President said the plan is to bring together all traditional allies to discuss how to deal with the future of China.
Beijing has been quite critical of Washington in recent weeks, especially with the US threatening it with sanctions.
While there has been some talk of re-admitting Russia — Trump had raised this issue in Biarritz – the e suggestion to expand it and include India is a new proposal. The proposal to re-admit Russia is expected to elicit strong reactions from other G7 member countries.
It is not clear when the rescheduled summit will take place although Trump suggested that it could be held around the UN General Assembly in September or even after the US Presidential elections in November this year.
“Maybe I will do it after the election,” he said. “Think a good time would be before the election… So, it might be a G10, G11, and it could be after the election is over,” he said, keeping the scheduling issue flexible and open-ended.
India, which is likely to be elected for the non-permanent member’s seat at the UN Security Council in New York, will be at the global high table next month. And expansion of G7 appears in line with New Delhi’s thinking that India deserves a place at the global decision-making bodies.
Trump’s proposal comes days after he claimed he had spoken to Modi about the tense situation on the India-China border. His claim was rebutted by the Indian government through “off-the-record” statements.
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