“I’m postponing it because don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,” Mr Trump told reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral.
Mr Trump wants to supplement the gathering of traditional G-7 allies with those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and also to discuss the future of China, said White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah, travelling with the president.
The summit could happen in September, either before or after the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump said. The UN General Assembly is scheduled to open – potentially virtually, not in person – on Sept 15 and run through Sept 30.
“Maybe I’ll do it after the election,” Mr Trump said. The US presidential election is Nov 3. “I think a good time would be before the election.”
“So it might be a G-10, G-11, and it could be after the election is over,” he added.
Mr Trump said he would like to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to join an expanded summit. The coronavirus and relations with China are likely to be major topics.
China, the world’s No. 2 economy, was not among Mr Trump’s proposed attendees as tensions between Washington and Beijing run high over the coronavirus and Hong Kong.
Instead, Trump would bring in Australia, which has joined with the United States in criticising China about the spread of coronavirus around the world, and has faced economic reprisals as a result.
The move to invite Russia will be controversial. Russia was suspended from what was then the Group of Eight major economies in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea. Mr Trump has mused before about bringing Moscow back into the fold.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated this weekend that she was hesitant to travel to the US in June for a physical G-7 meeting.
“She’s unable to confirm her personal participation,” a German government spokesperson said of Mrs Merkel in an emailed statement on Saturday.
Leaders from the Group of Seven, which the United States heads this year, had been scheduled to meet by video conference in late June after the coronavirus pandemic scuttled plans to gather in-person at Camp David, the US presidential retreat outside Washington.
The decision is a dramatic pivot for Mr Trump, who had sought to host the group of major industrialised countries as a demonstration that the US was returning to normal after its Covid-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 103,000 Americans to date.
Mr Trump had only last week indicated that he could hold the huge gathering after all, “primarily at the White House” but also potentially parts of it at Camp David.
The G7 major advanced countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – hold annual meetings to discuss international economic coordination. The work is now more important as they struggle to repair coronavirus-inflicted damage.