President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would look to delay the Group of Seven summit until after the presidential election in November, postponing the annual gathering once again after the coronavirus pandemic upended plans to hold it earlier this summer.
The president told reporters during a coronavirus briefing that he hadn’t extended any invitations for the summit, before moments later saying that the White House had invited “a number of people” and that some had already accepted his invitation.
“I’m much more inclined to do it sometime after the election,” he explained, growing firmer in that timeline seconds later.
“We’re going to be doing it after the election. I think it’s a better atmosphere to have a G-7,” Trump said. “I think it’s a lot, I think it’s just a better, calmer atmosphere to have a G-7.”
Because of coronavirus, Trump scrapped a planned in-person summit that was set to take place at Camp David, and he indicated that he wanted to hold portions of a rescheduled meeting for June in person at the White House and Camp David, with other portions of it taking place by teleconference.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany declined Trump’s invitation to attend the Washington summit, and days later the president announced he was postponing it.
He said at the time he could hold it after the election, but also mused about hosting the summit in September, when world leaders would be in the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly.
The president also drew criticism at the time for revealing that he planned to extend an invitation to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, as well as the leaders of three other countries who are not part of the G-7.
Several members of the group have pushed back on that plan, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada expressing their opposition to the readmission of Russia, which was suspended from what was previously the Group of Eight after illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Trump told reporters on Monday that he “certainly would invite” Putin, whom he called an “important factor.”