WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’s considering holding a meeting in the United States with the leaders of the world’s major economies because it would be a “great sign to all” of things returning to normal during the CCP virus pandemic.
The announcement was the latest effort by Trump to signal to the nation that the U.S. economy is humming again after months-long shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus are beginning to be lifted across the country.
Trump had scheduled the Group of Seven summit for June 10-12 at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. But in March, he announced he was canceling the annual meeting because of the pandemic and that the leaders would confer by video conference instead.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all—normalization!”
The G-7 optimism came as Trump met with Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and Gov. Laura Kelly (D-Kan.) to discuss reopening plans in their states. The pair praised the administration’s efforts to expand testing to critical industries, including meatpacking, in their states.
Separately, Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida for a meeting with tourism industry executives and a meal at a business recently reopened to dine-in patrons.
Formal White House preparations for the meeting were halted two months ago when the summit was called off. And the Trump administration has maintained travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for travelers from Europe, home to four of the G-7 nations. Earlier this week the United States and Canada agreed to keep their shared border closed to nonessential travel through June 21.
The District of Columbia remains under stay-at-home orders at least through June 8, though Maryland began relaxing the restrictions last week. At the same time, leaders of the G-7 member nations are in some cases still grappling with the virus in their own countries or in various states of reopening their economies.
A senior White House official said Trump was seriously considering rescheduling the summit for some point in June, likely toward the end of the month, at either the White House or Camp David. The subject was discussed on a call between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday morning, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked whether it would be appropriate to hold the G-7 while ordinary citizens cannot travel to the United States from Europe.
“America is reopening. The world is reopening and what a show of strength and optimism to have all the leaders of these countries come together at the White House and pursue business as usual as we move forward through this pandemic,” McEnany said.
If the summit happens, the United States would request that delegations be pared back to minimum personnel and would curtail nonessential events like the spousal program. A final decision would be needed in the coming days to ensure adequate time to prepare for the high-level meeting, the official said.
Macron’s office said in a statement that “given the importance of the G-7 in the response to the crisis, the president is willing to go to Camp David, if the health conditions allow it.”
“Whatever form the G-7 meeting takes, whether it’s a video conference or otherwise, I will definitely fight for multi-lateralism, that’s very clear, both in the G-7 and the G-20,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an interesting idea, but said leaders need a lot more details. He said it’s important G-7 leaders meet in June so they can discuss the pandemic and restoring economic activity.
“We need to keep meeting as leaders. Whether that’s virtual or in person we will certainly take a look at what the U.S. is proposing as host of the G-7 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,” Trudeau said.
“There are a lot of discussions to come, but we look forward to having those discussions with the American hosts.”
The United States holds the G-7’s rotating presidency this year and gets to determine where the meeting is held and set the agenda. Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan are the other members.
NTD staff contributed to this report.