“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 on Tuesday, 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. 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.
It has been reported by other outlets that Macron planned to press Putin to accept Ukraine’s overtures for dialogue during that meeting in France on Monday.
CNN has reached out to the White House and the French Embassy for comment on the call.
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.
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.
“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.”