By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Moscow suggested on Wednesday that the Group of Seven (G7) discuss the return of Russia to the body on an expert level.
"Any suggestions need to be formalized and transferred to the Russian side for consideration," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, referring to recent informal proposals by the Washington and Paris to allow the country back into the group.
"It is necessary to move the discussion of this topic from the public to the professional sphere, if the 'seven' wants to position itself as a serious format," Zakharova added.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke in favor of Russia's return to the group of the world's top eight economies.
"It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia," he told reporters at the White House.
The CNN reported that Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone conversation Tuesday that they wanted to invite Russia to the G7 summit next year.
- Berlin demands progress on Ukraine
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman underlined on Wednesday that Russia was suspended from the G8 in 2014 due to its annexation of Crimea as well as its political and military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"If we would see a prospect for the elimination of these reasons [for Russia’s exclusion], then a new change in the summit format can be discussed," Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin.
The UN General Assembly -- including Turkey -- view the Black Sea peninsula's annexation as illegal.
Leaders of the G7 -- consisting of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan -- are set to convene again Aug. 24-25 in the French coastal town of Biarritz.
*Ayhan Simsek contributed to this report from Berlin.