WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump on Thursday called off the G7 meeting at Camp David scheduled for June, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the White House said.
The leaders of seven major industrial nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — will instead huddle by video conference, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
The announcement came as the number of cases in the US surged past 10,000 and the State Department issued a new alert urging Americans not to travel abroad under any circumstances.
G7 countries are all in crisis mode to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and equally to try and halt financial panic that threatens to send their economies into recession.
Trump spoke with G7 leaders Monday by video conference in a meeting convened by French President Emmanuel Macron. Deere said Trump, who takes on the leadership of the group this year, would hold those virtual meetings monthly as the world struggles to response to the virus outbreak and its economic repercussions.
Deere said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow informed his colleagues of the change to allow “each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19.”
Nations across the globe have implemented stiff travel restrictions and distancing measures to try to curb the spread of the virus. It wasn’t immediately clear how long those restrictions would be kept in place.
The G7 summit is held by the presiding country each year, but Trump’s preparations had already been marred by controversy over his initial attempt to host the event at his own golf club in Florida.
Last October, the White House announced that the Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami had been chosen out of 12 possible sites.
The White House insisted there was no conflict of interest in using a Trump business and claimed there was no equally suitable property in the country.
Following strong resistance in Congress, Trump switched tack in December, saying he could use Camp David, a historic presidential retreat, instead.
In a tweet at the time, Trump blamed “both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility” for the decision to abandon the Doral plan.