President Donald Trump has suggested Russia rejoin the Group of 7 industrialized nations, five years after it was expelled for annexing Crimea.
Trump made the remarks Tuesday ahead of the 45th G7 summit in France this week.
"I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in," Trump said. "I could certainly see it being the G8 again."
The president added, "a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia."
In his comments, Trump suggested Russia was expelled because Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin was too much for then-U.S. President Barack Obama.
"President Obama didn't want Russia in because he got outsmarted," he told reporters in the Oval Office.
"He made a living outsmarting Obama," he added Wednesday while leaving the White House for an event in Louisville, Ky.
Trump will travel to Biarritz, France, for the G7 summit Thursday and Friday.
"I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there," he said.
An administration official told CNN French President Emmanuel Macron said in a phone call with Trump he would also support readmitting Russia -- a contradiction of earlier statements in which Macron said Russia must promote peace in Ukraine first. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, which drew worldwide criticism and led to its expulsion from the Group of 7.
The group, sometimes called G7+1, presently consists of the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union.
Moscow voiced support for returning to the group, but added China and India should also be allowed to join.
"I think Russia's return would make sense only if it's possible to avoid the 'seven against one' trap," Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said.
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