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Foreign Affairs Minister says Russia must reform before rejoining the G7

Click to play video 'Freeland says Russia should not be welcomed back into G7 until it leaves Crimea, Donbass' Freeland says Russia should not be welcomed back into G7 until it leaves Crimea, Donbass
WATCH ABOVE: Freeland says Russia should not be welcomed back into G7 until it leaves Crimea, Donbass – Aug 22, 2019

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday that Russia should not be welcomed back into the G7 until it shows the international community that it is committed to democracy and the rule of law.

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

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Speaking to reporters after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ottawa, Freeland said Canada has a “very clear position” when it comes to Russia and the G7.

“Russia’s violation of international law in invading Crimea and annexing it and continuing to support war in the Donbass is something we cannot allow to stand, and that is why Russia was expelled from the G7, because of that action,” Freeland said.

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“This was an incredibly serious step,” she continued. “It is the first annexation of territory of a European country by another European country since the Second World War.”

The G7 consists of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. The leaders of each nation are scheduled to meet later this week for a summit in Biarritz, France.

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Click to play video 'Freeland personally thanks Pompeo for ‘hard work’ multiple files' Freeland personally thanks Pompeo for ‘hard work’ multiple files
Freeland personally thanks Pompeo for ‘hard work’ multiple files – Aug 22, 2019

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said it would be “appropriate” to have Russia rejoin the G7.

“It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia, so I could certainly see it being the G8 again,” he told reporters during a meeting in the Oval Office with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

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“If somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favourably,” he said.

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Canada’s stance echoed opinions put forward by France, Britain and Germany, all of which have rebuffed Trump on the issue.

However, Freeland said if Russia sought to rejoin the G7 it would be “very simple.”

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“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 a group of countries committed to the rule of law, a group of countries committed to democracy,” she said.

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“And the way for Russia to show that it wants to do that is to leave Crimea and to end the war in the Donbass,” she said.

“It’s very simple.”

— With files from the Canadian Press and Reuters.