SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, France — President Donald Trump renewed calls Sunday to readmit Russia to the G-7 while attending the summit in Biarritz, France.
"I think it's a work in progress. We have a number of people that would like to see Russia back," Trump said when asked if there was an update about adding the former member to the group. "I don't know if we will make a decision one way or the other but we did have a discussion about Russia last night as to whether or not we want to invite them back," he added.
"Maybe we will just leave it the way it is," Trump said, explaining that there was no formal decision or plan to readmit Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The group once known as the G-8 included the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Russia — but was cut down to the G-7 in 2014 following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine sparked international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions to be placed on Moscow. Shortly after the annexation, a war broke out in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists.
Ahead of the G-7 summit, Trump told reporters at the White House that he would support a move to add Russia back to the group.
"I've gone to numerous G-7 meetings, and 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. I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in and it should be the G-8," Trump said, referencing the U.S.-led role in suspending Russia's involvement with the group.
"So I could certainly see it being the G-8 again," Trump added, noting that the group frequently discusses issues concerning Russia.
Trump previously said Russia should be reinstated to the group as he departed for last year's summit, held in Canada.
"Russia should be in this meeting," Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One for the summit. "They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table."