Trump cancels G7 at Camp David over coronavirus, to hold videoconference

 

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will cancel an in-person meeting of G7 leaders at Camp David in June because of the coronavirus and will hold a videoconference instead, the White House said on Thursday.

The decision comes as nations around the world seal their borders and ban travel to stop the virus' spread.

Trump held a videoconference with the leaders of the world’s major industrialized countries earlier this week and plans to repeat that in April, May and June, when the physical meeting at the presidential retreat in Maryland was scheduled to take place.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who also serves as Trump's G7 "sherpa," has informed his counterparts about the move.

“In order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 and at President Trump’s direction, National Economic Council Director and U.S. Sherpa for the 2020 G7 Larry Kudlow has informed his Sherpa colleagues that the G7 Leaders’ Summit the U.S. was set to host in June at Camp David will now be done by video-teleconference," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to Reuters.

"The White House also informed the other G7 members that in order to continue close coordination, the President will convene the Leaders’ via video teleconference in April and May just as he did this week,” he said.

The White House views the change as part of mitigation efforts to fight the virus. Countries normally send large delegations with their leaders to G7 summits and journalists from around the world convene to cover their meeting as well.

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President Donald Trump attends the G7 summit
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President Donald Trump attends the G7 summit
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is greeted by Italy's Chief of Protocol Riccardo Guariglia (L) as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
US President Donald Trump arrives for the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 26, 2017 at the ancient Greek Theater in Taormina, Sicily. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and Italy will be joined by representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia during the summit from May 26 to 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and U.S. President Donald Trump talk as he arrives at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
From R-L, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Council President Donald Tusk arrive for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe react during a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) waves beside U.S. President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
From L-R, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May gather as they attend the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump walks during the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
(L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni pose after watching an Italian flying squadron as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane De Sakutin/Pool
G7 Summit members, President of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L), U.S. President Donald Trump (L Rear), Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R Rear) and President of the European Council Donald Tusk (R) attend the first working session in Taormina in Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eliot Blondet/Pool
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Trump had intended to focus the G7 meeting on the economy, eschewing traditional topics that often top the agenda such as climate change. He initially planned to host the leaders' group at one of his properties in Florida but canceled those plans after criticism that he would profit financially from the meeting.

The G7 is made up of the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Britain as well as the European Union. Trump irritated Europe by instituting a travel ban on its citizens without first alerting European leaders. Europe has become the epicenter of the coronavirus. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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