Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

Trump opens door to in-person G7 June meeting despite pandemic

Trump says G7 meeting will ‘probably’ be at White House Trump says he's "considering" holding G7 summit in-person at Camp David this summer
Deanna Wagner | 22 May, 2020, 16:43

"The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK", he wrote.

"It would be a great sign to all - normalization!", the USA president wrote, calling for his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan to fly in for the event.

The G7 membership includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

But given that most worldwide and even diplomatic travel has been on hold for months, Trump's proposal struck many foreign policy experts as fanciful.

Nations around the world continue to grapple with the virus, which has led to the deaths of almost 330,000 people and crippled the global economy.

Still, Trump indicated he believed a summit held in the United States would signal to the world that things are returning to normal after a global pandemic shut down travel and froze the world economy. And initial statements from several G7 members did not rule out the idea of an in-person summit.

Arranging a summit in a month's time would be a challenge, officials said.

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Trump said the rescheduled meeting could be held in Washington, at an unspecified site, or at Camp David around the same June 10-12 time frame. The summits, which alternate host countries each year, are seen as particularly useful because of the close, private proximity of the small group of leaders and their staffs.

Trump said on Twitter that other G-7 members are "also beginning their COMEBACK", and that holding a summit in the US capital area would be a "great sign to all" of "normalization".

Until now, the president has focused the effort exclusively on domestic activity. Europeans and Canadians are now unable to travel to the United States as a result of a ban imposed by the Trump administration in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Even before the coronavirus derailed plans, organising the summit had become a minor drama for the White House.

While it is unclear how enthusiastic G7 leaders might be about visiting the United States, given its high rates of coronavirus infection and the fact that a White House aide and a presidential valet tested positive for the virus this month, none of its leaders rejected the idea outright.

During his daily news conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was open to discussing an in-person meeting, while French leader Emmanual Macron said he would travel to the U.S.as long as proper health precautions are in place, according to sources at the Elysee.

Speaking to reporters before heading on a trip to Michigan, Trump said the meeting will be "probably at the White House and maybe a little bit at Camp David, but primarily at the White House".