Trump hits out at allies and calls for Russia to be readmitted to G7

US president sharply criticises EU, Canada and Mexico as he departs for G7 summit

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Russia should be attending this weekend's Group of Seven nations meeting, as he prepared to fly to Canada to attend part of the three-day conference.

US president Donald Trump has hit out at the European Union and Canada as he departed Washington for the G7 summit in Canada, calling on Russia to be invited to rejoin the group of advanced industrisalised nations.

In extensive comments to journalists as he prepared to board Air Force One, Mr Trump said Russia – which was expelled from the group following its incursion into Ukraine in 2014 and annexation of Crimea – should be readmitted to the group.

“Russia should be in this meeting. Whether you like it or not and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. They threw Russia out, they should let Russia back in,” he said in comments that are likely to infuriate America’s European allies, who took a strong stance against Russia over its annexation of Crimea.

The G7 meeting, which begins in the small village of Charlevoix on Friday, is likely to be dominated by trade issues, following Washington's decision to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on imports and its ongoing efforts to renegotiate Nafta – the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico.


“All of these countries have been taking advantage of us. We have to straighten it out. We have massive trade deficits with almost every country,” Mr Trump said as he departed Washington.

His comments followed a series of early-morning tweets. “Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!” Mr Trump tweeted on Friday.

This year’s annual G7 gathering takes place against a background of deteriorating relations between the United States and the other six members.

In a tweet on Thursday, French president Emanuel Macron said: "The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force."

Combative tweets

Mr Trump shot back with a series of combative tweets.

"Please tell [Canadian] Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the US massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers," the US president wrote. "The EU trade surplus with the US is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out."

Among Mr Trump’s first engagements on arrival in Quebec is a bilateral meeting with the French president. Just last month the two spent two days together in Washington when the Donald and Melania Trump welcomed Mr Macron and his wife, Brigitte, on an official state visit.

Washington’s decision not to extend a waiver that had been granted to the EU, Canada and Mexico on steel and aluminium imports on June 1st, has annoyed European allies, who have threatened reciprocal measures.

Mr Trump is expected to leave the summit early, raising speculation that he may not sign the joint communique that is typically the most immediate and material outcomes of global summits.

He will fly directly from Canada to Singapore for next Tuesday's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has hit back at Mr Trump saying that “no-one wins in this scenario – neither US or US farmers”.

However, Mr Hogan said, “if Mr. Trump does not want to do business, the EU is ready and willing to do business. We are ready to offer our high quality food & drink products to the countries he finds it difficult to trade with.”

He announced that Mexico has decided to open a new 350,000 pigmeat quota for the EU and other countries.

“Mexico has chosen to put its faith in the EU rather than the US,” he said.

“I hope the US will change its policy in due course because we all need to work together in the interests of our farmers & food producers; and free, fair, rules-based global trade is one of the best ways to ensure this,” Mr Hogan said.

The US president also told reporters that he was considering pardons for 3,000 people, including Muhammed Ali. It follows his decision this week to commute the life sentence of Alice Johnson, a grandmother who was convicted of a drugs offence in 1996, following an intervention by celebrity Kim Kardashian West.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent