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by John Helmer, Moscow 

President Donald Trump telephoned President Vladimir Putin on Monday afternoon, Moscow time, to confirm he is inviting Russia to re-join the G7 summit conference at the next scheduled meeting of the group in the US.

Trump had mentioned his idea of holding a face-to-face meeting of heads of government of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the UK and Canada on May 20, when he tweeted: “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 then spoke of a date  in late June in a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on May 28. Macron agreed to the face-to-face format and to the tentative time.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea, announcing through a spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on May 30: “The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit in Washington at the end of June in Washington.   As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to  Washington.” The spokesman added an irony. “She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”

Stung by Merkel, Trump told US reporters on May 31 he would postpone the G7 meeting until at least September,  and is considering the inclusion of four additional countries to the summit: Russia, Australia, India and South Korea. “I’m postponing it because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries.”

On Monday Trump telephoned the Kremlin. The text of the conversation of the call has been leaked.

“US PRESIDENT TRUMP: …ring…ring…ring…unidentified voice in English: Putting you through, Mr President. (Audible breathing.)

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN: ..ping…ping…ping….unidentified voice in Russian:  По инициативе американской стороны состоялся телефонный разговор Владимира Путина с Президентом Соединённых Штатов Америки Дональдом Трампом. [Kremlin translation: “At the initiative of the American side Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Donald Trump.”]

US PRESIDENT TRUMP: informed Mr Putin about his idea of holding a G7 summit with the possible invitation of the leaders of Russia, Australia, India and the Republic of Korea.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN: … inaudible (rubs nose).

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN: The importance of enhancing the Russian-American dialogue on strategic stability and confidence-building measures in the military sector was noted.

US PRESIDENT TRUMP: … inaudible.

THE PRESIDENTS: (English, Russian speaking over each other) agreed to continue contacts at various levels.”

The full text can be read here.

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