01:30 - Source: CNN
Trump says he would like to see Russia rejoin G8
Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed his support for reinstating Russia into the G7, and French President Emmanuel Macron has agreed with the President that Russia should be invited to the G7 conference in 2020, according to a senior administration official.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in” the group, he said during a meeting in the Oval Office with the Romanian President just days before the group of leading industrialized nations convenes for its annual summit in France.

“If somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,” he added.

Later in the day, a senior administration official told CNN Trump and Macron agreed in a phone conversation Tuesday that they wanted to invite Russia to the G7 next year. The official said that the leaders did not discuss concessions from Russia, and Trump is expected to broach the topic with other world leaders this weekend at the G7.

The call was planned to generally discuss the upcoming G7 meetings in France, which begin on Saturday. It was Macron who suggested inviting Russia to the gathering next year, and Trump agreed, the source said. The US will host the G7 in 2020.

It’s unclear how the process to decide if Russia should be at the table next year will play out.

According to the source, some White House officials believe that this is a ploy by Macron to embarrass Trump into putting himself on the line publicly and pushing for Russia to be allowed back in, though the French and American leaders have discussed the topic in the past. France wants to normalize relations with Russia, the source said.

During the Macron-Putin meeting on Monday, Macron said a resolution of Russia’s annexation of Crimea would be the “magic wand” to bring Russia back into the G7.

The White House confirmed that Macron and Trump spoke over the phone on Tuesday to discuss the G7 Summit. A French official also confirmed the call.

The French official pressed that Macron has not changed his position on the G8, which is that Russia cannot be allowed back in until there is movement on Ukraine. Macron believes there is the will to move forward on Ukraine – even five years after the illegal annexation by Russia – and plans to discuss this issue at the G7. But the official would not comment on if Macron suggested inviting Putin to the G7 next year during his phone call with Trump.

When speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump claimed that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, wanted Russia out of the group because “he got outsmarted.”

“I guess President Obama – because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out,” he said.

But the 2014 decision was made by a majority of member countries.

Russia was suspended from the group – then known as the G8 – after the majority of member countries united against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which Russia continues to hold.

It’s also another example of Trump’s failure to condemn Russia for its aggressive behavior and his ongoing push to restore more normal relations.

Trump previously said Russia should be reinstated to group as he departed for last year’s summit.

“Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House for the summit, which was held in Charlevoix in Canada. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”