President Donald Trump said Wednesday he could restore plans to hold the annual G7 summit in person at his Camp David retreat, after previously ordering the event to take place by videoconference.
In a tweet, Trump said that recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was going well enough for possibly making the huge diplomatic gathering an in-person occasion.
“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 tweeted.
Due to the ambiguous wording of the tweet, it wasn’t clear if Trump is mulling ruling out Washington altogether in favor of Camp David — or if he is considering venues in the capital as well. Camp David is located around 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the White House.
The G7 summit, which is hosted by the United States this year, was due to be held in June at Camp David, in northern Maryland.
But in March, the White House said that due to the pandemic it would be held remotely.
G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — take turns organizing the annual gathering. Last year it was France.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who hosted the 2018 summit, said any in-person gathering would have to prioritize safety.
– ‘Wait and see’ –
“We need to keep meeting as leaders, whether that’s virtual (or) in person,” he told reporters.
“We’ll certainly take a look at what the US is proposing as host of the G7 to see what kind of measures will be in place to keep people safe, what kind of recommendations the experts are giving in terms of how that might function.”
Asked by a journalist whether she was prepared to travel to the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would “wait and see what happens.”
“Whatever form the G7 meeting takes, a video conference or whatever, I will certainly fight for multilateralism,” she said at a news conference in Berlin.
Europeans are currently unable to travel to the United States as a result of a ban imposed by the Trump administration in a bid to contain the spread of the virus while the border with Canada is also closed.
Trump’s hosting of the summit has seen numerous hiccups, starting with his controversial push to stage it at one of his own golf resorts.
Last October, the White House announced that the Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami had been chosen out of 12 possible sites.
The White House insisted there was no conflict of interest in using a Trump family business and claimed there was no equally suitable venue in the country.
Following strong resistance in Congress, Trump switched tack in December, saying he could use Camp David, a historic presidential retreat, instead.
In a tweet at the time, Trump blamed “both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility” for the decision to abandon the Doral plan.