Trump likely to decide in coming days whether to host in-person G7 summit

Nation/World
Donald Trump attends the first working session of the G-7 Summit on Aug. 25, 2019, in Biarritz, France. (Jeff J Mitchell - Pool /Getty Images)

Donald Trump attends the first working session of the G-7 Summit on Aug. 25, 2019, in Biarritz, France. (Jeff J Mitchell – Pool /Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will likely decide within the next few days whether to host an in-person summit of G7 world leaders at the end of June, according to a White House official.

Arranging a summit in a month’s time would be a challenge, officials said. And after Trump raised the idea on Twitter on Wednesday morning, the other leaders did not rush to confirm their attendance, saying instead they would wait to see what safety precautions were in place before deciding.

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.

“Now that our Country is ‘Transitioning back to Greatness’, I am considering rescheduling the G-7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, D.C., at the legendary Camp David. The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Trump is serious about the proposal and has been considering it for a few days, the official said. He sought input from last year’s G7 president, French leader Emmanuel Macron, during a morning telephone call on Wednesday.

Later, Macron’s office said he’d be willing to travel to the United States for the G7 summit “if health conditions permit it.”

“Given the importance of the G7 in managing the crisis, President Macron is obviously prepared to travel to Camp David if President Trump wishes to do it there,” the Élysée official said.

Another member of the group, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said after Trump’s tweet that he would need to see what measures the US proposed to keep people safe before committing to an in-person summit.

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would “wait and see what happens” before committing.

It remains to be seen whether leaders would require special dispensation to come to the United States, which has enacted restrictions on travel from Europe and the United Kingdom and required a mandatory quarantine for those who enter. The border between the US and Canada also remains closed to nonessential travel until June 21.

During an afternoon briefing, the White House spokeswoman declined to identify the “mechanics” required to host the summit.

“The President really wants to see the G7 happen here in Washington,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters. “He’d like to see it happen sometime in June, but as to a particular date I don’t have an announcement on that front.”

The G7 is comprised of the US, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Japan. Trump has mused about allowing Russia to rejoin the group but met fierce resistance from fellow leaders.

When Trump announced in March the summit would be held virtually, planning for the in-person event was halted. Organizing such a gathering typically takes a host country several months, so officials said on Wednesday the President would need to decide within a week whether to press forward with the event.

If he does, it would likely occur at the end of June to allow for a few additional weeks of planning. Originally, the summit had been scheduled for June 10-12.

The summit would also likely require modifications such as limiting the size of foreign leaders’ delegations and cutting down on the number of activities, officials said.

Trump has spent several weekends at Camp David recently and is expected to continue in the coming weeks. It’s allowed him to envision the summit taking place there even after he decided to cancel it earlier this year, one official said.

Trump originally wanted to host the event at his Doral golf club outside Miami but decided against it when ethics concerns were raised.

His chief of staff at the time, Mick Mulvaney, disparaged Camp David as a venue in part because it was too remote. President Barack Obama held the 2012 meeting of what was then the G8 at the mountainside resort.

“I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G7,” Mulvaney said. “It was way too small. It was way too remote.”

But officials said those shortcomings would seem to recommend the venue amid a global pandemic, where the size of delegations is limited by available space and leaders would not necessarily need to venture into a densely packed city.

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