Donald Trump has said it would be appropriate to let Russia join the G7 group of advanced industrialised countries.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, the US leader noted his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had pushed for Russia’s expulsion out of what used to be the G8 because President Vladimir Putin “outsmarted” him.
“But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Mr Trump said.
Russia was pushed out of the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
He also said that John Sullivan, the US deputy secretary of state, “could very well be” the next US ambassador to Russia.
Mr Trump, who was hosting Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, indicated that Mr Sullivan was being considered for the job.
“He’s somebody that is being put up and respected very much… very respected. I know that Mike Pompeo likes him very much, and he’s very respected. He could very well be [my nominee],” he told reporters.
It was not the first time Mr Trump has suggested Russia be brought back into the G7, which groups the US, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada – the countries representing 58% of the global net wealth of $317tn (£260tn).
He said in 2018 that Russia should attend a forthcoming G7 summit in Canada, with a Kremlin spokesman seeming to reject the idea, saying Russia was focused on other formats.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not choose the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow.
The US leader has periodically called for closer ties with Russia, despite his administration’s policy including strong sanctions against Moscow.
Last week, US administration officials knocked down media reports that Stephen Biegun, the US envoy for North Korea, was being considered as the next ambassador for Russia.
If Mr Sullivan is nominated for the role, he would succeed Jon Huntsman, who resigned earlier this month amid speculation he plans to run for governor of Utah.
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