After President Trump for the first time last week pushed for an in-person G7 summit, which is at this moment still officially on the schedule as a videoconference meeting in late June due to the pandemic (it was originally planned for Camp David), Germany says Chancellor Angela Merkal has rejected the change in plan, saying she won’t be in attendance.
This after Trump extended concrete plans to hold the gathering — which includes heads of the US, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, also European Union leaders — “primarily at the White House” but also possibly parts in Camp David in Maryland as well.
“As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington,” Merkel’s spokesman said, which followed a Friday night report in Politico. “She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”
“The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit,” the spokesman added.
It’s clear from the statement citing pandemic fears that the German leader thinks it too early to gather in person. Trump pushed it as a hopeful sign of “normalization”.
The president tweeted on May 20, “It would be a great sign to all — normalization!” — explaining that a rescheduled in-person summit would be a sign of the retreat and defeat of the virus, and economic recovery.
The White House viewed a normal summit gathering as a “show of strength” to the world as economies in the West slowly open back up, however, such a key G7 country as Germany giving a firm ‘no’ will likely put a crimp in the plans.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Other countries have issued vaguely positive responses but more likely are remaining on the fence, likely to take cues from first-movers like Germany.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “agreed on the importance of convening the G7 in person in the near future” according to a Friday White House statement, while Canada’s Trudeau said he’d entertain it as long as safety was prioritized, and France’s Macron said he was “willing to go to Camp David if the health conditions allow”.