By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday he could support Russia's return to the group of the world's top eight economies, falsely blaming his predecessor for Russia's expulsion.
Trump told reporters at the White House it would be "much more appropriate" for Russia to rejoin the G7, making it the G8 again.
"Because Putin outsmarted him, President [Barack] Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out," he said. "It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talked about have to do with Russia. So, I could certainly it being the G8 again, and if somebody would make that motion I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably."
However, Russia was expelled from the G8 by the majority of countries due to its illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, the first such violation of a European nation's borders since World War II.
This is not the first time Trump has called for Russia's return to the economic group. He did previously so at the G7's June summit, but the comments received quick pushback from Canada and Germany who oppose Russia's return while it continues to hold Crimea.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel contended then that there is consensus within the group not to readmit Russia without significant progress toward ending the conflict in Ukraine.
G7 Leaders are set to convene again Aug. 24-25 in the French coastal town of Biarritz.