Trump again pushes for Russia's readmittance to G-7, says it would be 'appropriate'

President Donald Trump is again advocating for Russia’s readmittance to a group of the world’s major industrial nations.

Echoing a call he made last year, Trump said Tuesday that it would be “more appropriate to have Russia” in the Group of 7, which is scheduled to meet in France this weekend.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, the president suggested his predecessor, Barack Obama, had pressed for Russia’s ousting from the forum only because of a bruised ego.

“I guess President Obama, because [President Vladimir] Putin outsmarted him — President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out,” Trump said, referring to Obama’s efforts in 2014 to rally other members of the then Group of 8 to expel Russia following its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Trump did not mention Crimea or Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine in his remarks but said that if “somebody would make” a motion to readmit Russia to the G-7, “I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably.”

Trump asserted in June that Russia “should be in” the G-7

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. . . . They should let Russia come back in,” he said ahead of the group’s 2018 meeting in Quebec.

As The New York Times noted, Trump was — and remains — alone among G-7 members in this unconditional support of Russia’s return. Though other leaders have expressed an interest in engaging with Russia, most have said the Kremlin will need to change its behavior before a return is considered. 

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said during a meeting with Putin that the Kremlin could rejoin the G-7 but only if it helped to resolve the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a bloody war that has left at least 13,000 dead and displaced over 1.5 million people

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President Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Finland
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16, 2018: The national flags of Russia and the United States seen ahead of a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin react at the end of the joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and First lady Melania Trump pose for a picture with a football during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US First Lady Melania Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and US President Donald Trump (L-R) after a news conference at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
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According to CNN, which cited a senior White House official, Macron and Trump agreed in a Tuesday phone conversation that they want to invite Russia to the G-7 meeting next year. It remains unclear, however, whether the two leaders discussed any preconditions to this invitation. 

CNN said Trump is expected to broach the topic of Russia’s possible readmittance to the G-7 at the group’s meeting this weekend. 

Joe Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, lambasted Trump’s suggestion that Russia be allowed back into the group.

“They invaded another country. They broke every agreement they had with the international community,” the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. “They’ve done nothing to change their behavior except interfere in our elections.”

Leon Panetta, who was defense secretary in Obama’s Cabinet and was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, told CNN that Trump did not appear to be “aware that Russia is an adversary.” 

“Before he starts inviting Russia to join the G-8, ought we not get something back from Russia? Ought we not to know that Russia is not going to attack our election system in 2020? Shouldn’t we know that Russia isn’t going to continue to be aggressive in the Ukraine, in Syria, in the Middle East and elsewhere?” Panetta said.

“He’s basically ... inviting Russia to be a part of the G-8 and is getting nothing in return as far as I can see,” Panetta said. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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