SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will accept an invitation to attend a Group of Seven (G7) nations meeting, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
Trump said last week he will postpone a G7 summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.
Making the invitation directly, Trump called Morrison on Tuesday and the offer was accepted, a spokesman for the Australian prime minister said.
“The prime minister said he was once again pleased to take up the invitation to attend the G7, as he had done last year, when invited to do so by President Macron, in France,” the spokesman for Morrison said in an e-mailed statement.
Morrison has been one of few world leaders to pay a state visit to Washington during Trump’s tenure, and both leaders have openly signalled their camaraderie.
Morrison, unlike some European leaders, has avoided criticising Trump publicly and has teamed up with the United States in its tougher stance against China, Australia’s main trading partner.
Relations between Canberra and Beijing have been strained amid Australian accusations of Chinese meddling in domestic affairs and concern about what Australia sees as China’s growing influence in the Pacific region.
While Australia’s presence at the next G7 meeting appears unopposed, Trump’s suggestion that Russia be invited has been rejected by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Still, Trump spoke to Putin on Monday and informed him about his plans to hold an expanded G7 meeting later this year, the Kremlin said on Monday.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)