(CNSNews.com) – President Trump said Monday it would be “better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent” of the world’s leading industrialized countries, arguing that if President Vladimir Putin had been in the room during the just-ended G7 summit, the leaders could have solved several issues that are instead now “in limbo.”
Speaking to reporters at the end of the summit in Biarritz, France, Trump recalled that at one point during Sunday’s meetings, the leaders had been “discussing four or five matters, and Russia was literally involved in all of those four or five matters.”
“And a few of the people looked up and said, you know, ‘Why aren’t they here talking to us about it?’”
“We had a lot of things that we were discussing and it would have been very easy if Russia was in the room. If he was in the room, we could have solved those things. Now they’re just in limbo …”
The U.S. has assumed the rotating leadership of the G7, and Trump will host next year’s annual summit. He has given strong indications that he will invite Russia, which was suspended from the then Group of Eight in 2014.
A reporter pointed out that the 2020 summit will be held just months before the U.S. elections, and asked whether Trump was not worried that inviting the Russians might “hurt’ him politically.
“I don’t care politically. I really don’t,” he replied. “A lot of people don’t understand this.”
Predicting that he would win a second term “based on the polls that we see,” Trump continued, “Whether I win or not, I have to do the right thing. So I don’t do things for political reasons.”
He asserted that others at the G7 also felt Russia, “which is a power,” should be allowed to return to the forum.
“There were numerous people during the G7 that felt that way,” he said. “And we didn’t take a vote or anything, but we did discuss it. My inclination is to say yes, they should be in.”
Trump attributed Russia’s suspension to President Obama’s embarrassment at having been “outsmarted” by the Russians when Putin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014.