Russia readmission divides leaders at Macron’s G7

Biarritz, France, Aug 26 (AFP/APP):The future reintegration of Russia into the elite G7 group of the world’s rich nations has proved an explosive issue at a summit in southern France, with leaders divided over whether to allow Moscow back in after its 2014 expulsion.

Russia was kicked out of what was the Group of Eight (G8) as Moscow was holding its presidency after it annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a move never recognised by the international community.

But US President Donald Trump, who will host the next Group of Seven summit in 2020, has spoken out in favour of readmitting Russia.

And the host of this year’s event, French President Emmanuel Macron, has also said it would be appropriate to include Russia if key conditions were met.

However Britain, whose ties with Russia hit a new low following the 2018 chemical poisoning on its territory of Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal which London blamed on the Kremlin, has spoken out against Moscow’s reinclusion.

– ‘Difficult talks’ –

The issue came to a head during lengthy discussions at the leaders’ first official G7 dinner on Saturday evening, where the premiers and heads of state — also including Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada — put forward “forthright” positions on the issue, said a source close to the discussions, asking not to be named.

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