President Donald Trump on Monday said he was “more inclined” to host the upcoming summit of the G-7, which his administration had intended to use to rally the world’s richest economies to focus on the threat from China, after the US presidential elections in November. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to attend at the American leader’s invitation.
“I’m much more inclined to do it sometime after the election; we were going to do it in September,” the president told reporters at a White House news briefing that he left briefly because of a shooting outside. He returned a few minutes later, saying things were “under control”.
Continuing to talk about the G-7 Summit, Trump said, “We could do it through teleconference or we could do it through a meeting,” adding that it was only past Sunday that he had suggested to his aides to reschedule the summit to after the election in a “better …. calmer atmosphere”.
The presidency of the G7 rotates annually, and Trump is this year’s chair.
President Trump will continue in office if he wins, but even if he were to lose, he will still be around till the inauguration of his successor in January of 2021.
Just a few minutes into the start of the briefing, Trump was escorted off the dais in the White House briefing room by the Secret Service, which confirmed a shooting involving one of its agents shortly after the president had returned to resume the briefing.
“A male subject and a USSS (US Secret Service) officer were both transported to a local hospital,” the secret service said in an update, adding, “At no time during this incident was the White House complex breached or were any protectees in danger.”
Trump first spoke of his plans to invite Modi and leaders of Australia, South Korea and Russia to the G-7 summit in May. He had also expressed his desire at the time to include these nations in an expanded group called “G-10 or G-11”.
He had then planned to hold the summit in the week before the UN general assembly meetings around September 15.
The US President extended an invitation to Modi to attend the summit in a phone call a week later. He also conveyed his “desire” to expand the group to India, which was mistaken among some policy circles in India as an invitation to the expanded group, which is call to be taken jointly by the other members.
Modi had “commended President Trump for his creative and far-sighted approach, acknowledging the fact that such an expanded forum would be in keeping with the emerging realities of the post-COVID world” about the offer. And he had gone on to assure Trump of India’s willingness to “work with the US and other countries to ensure the success of the proposed Summit.”
Though not a member of the G-7, India has been at some of its summits at the invitation of host countries. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had attended the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, the UK (the group was called G-8 back then and included Russia, which was thrown out in 2014 for annexing Crimea), and Prime Minister Modi attended the 2019 summit in Biarritz, France.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump had told reporters on Air Force One on the way back from the historic launch of the first manned mission into space by a private company, SpaceX in May. “It’s a very outdated group of countries.”
Alyssa Alexandra Farah, head of the president’s team on strategic communications, had told reporters then that the summit was an attempt to bring together “our traditional allies to talk about how to deal with the future of China”.
The Group of Seven, called G-7, is an intergovernmental organisation of some of the world’s largest economies, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. India is a member of the larger version of the body that is called the G-20.