Canada opposes Russia's return to G8: Freeland

(Reuters) - The Canadian government remains opposed to Russia rejoining the group of leading industrialized nations formerly known as the Group of Eight, a move U.S President Donald Trump has said should be considered, Canada’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

G7 leaders are set to meet this weekend in France. On Tuesday, Trump said it would be “appropriate” to have Russia rejoin what used to be the G8.

Russia was dropped from the G8 in 2014 after its invasion of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and backed an anti-Kiev rebellion in the industrial region of Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada’s position on Russia’s participation in the G7 is “very clear.”

“Russia’s violation of international law in invading Crimea and annexing it, in continuing to support war in the Donbas, is something we cannot allow to stand,” Freeland said.

If Moscow wants to rejoin the international delegation, it must end the war in the Donbas and leave Crimea, she said.

If those conditions are met, “I think all of us would be delighted to welcome a Russia which sought again to be a member in good standing of our like-minded group of countries,” Freeland added.

Freeland’s remarks echoed those made by a Canadian official during a background press briefing ahead of the G7 meeting on Thursday morning.

“Russia was not invited to this meeting and the prime minister’s position, Canada’s position, remains the same as last year when this came up as well. The answer was no,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Canada’s stance echoes opinions put forward by France, Britain and Germany, all of which have rebuffed Trump on the issue. The G7 groups the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson; editing by Jonathan Oatis