DON”T GO SOFT ON PUTIN: May issues rallying cry to fellow G7 leaders over Russia sanctions | World | News

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The Prime Minister is today set to have one-to-one talks with Giuseppe Conte the leader of Italy’s new government at the G7 summit in Quebec where she is set to clash over the tough sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community.

Mr Conte has called for sanctions to be relaxed against Russia in line with policies of the two main governing parties 5 Star and Lega.

He said he wants his government to “promote a review of the sanctions regime.”

It comes after Mr Trump said he wants Russia to rejoin the G7 and make it the G8 again reversing it expulsion from the gathering of the world’s largest economies in 2014 after the annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what you call it. It used to be G-8, now Russia is out. Why are we having a meeting without Russia? Would recommend Russia should be a part of it.”

Mr Trump added: “Russia should be in this meeting. Whether you like it or not and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. G-7 threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in.”

The US President is in the midst of a battle with other G7 members on steel and aluminium tariffs and yesterday publicly berated G7 host Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, and French President Emanuel Macron on Twitter.

But Mrs May has stood firm on Russia after rallying international partners to impose tough measures in the wake of the nerve agent attack in Salisbury on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

She also managed to win important agreements on tackling Russia and other “hostile states” in the future.

The G7 have agreed to a unified response with the establishment of a new Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM).

The move will see hostile states publicly “called out” for their egregious behaviour – with coordinated international attribution of cyber and other attacks.

Speaking at the G7 summit the Prime Minister has emphasised that recent events, including the reckless use of ‘NotPetya’ ransomware and the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury, have demonstrated the importance of a unified international response to send a clear message that such hostile state activity will not be tolerated.

The Prime Minister has stated that calling out malicious activity helps to end hostile states’ false sense of impunity, demonstrates our awareness of their activity, and underlines our willingness to defend ourselves.

Ahead of her crunch meeting with Mr Conte, Mrs May said: “Obviously, I have had a preliminary conversation with the new Italian Prime Minister and obviously I will be meeting him to have further discussions with him here and at the G7.

“I will continue to make the case I have been here and in the European Union Council of the importance of those sanctions against Russia.

“As the UK we do believe that we should call out and deal with malign state activity. That is what we did post the case with the Skripals in Salisbury.”

She went on: “There is the wider case to be made on the international order, for example on chemical weapons.”

On the new agreement, she said: “There is no doubt that foreign interference in our democratic institutions and processes, and other forms of hostile activity, pose a strategic threat to our shared values and interests.

“So I welcome this agreement that the G7 will exchange information, co-ordinate action, and develop strategies to reinforce our democracies, strengthen our societies’ resilience and uphold freedom of expression and a free and independent media in the face of this growing threat.”

“The announcement shows that the G7 will not tolerate foreign interference in any one of our democracies, that we are getting organised, and that we will take coordinated action against those who seek to violate the rules-based international system.

“Calling out malicious activity helps to end hostile states’ false sense of impunity, demonstrates our awareness of their activity, and underlines our unwavering willingness to defend ourselves.”

Meanwhile, a Downing Street source confirmed that Mrs May is strongly opposed to the G7 readmitting Russia.

The senior source said: “The Prime Minister has always said we should engage with Russia but beware.

“We should remind ourselves why the G8 became the G7 – it was after Russia illegally annexed Crimea.

“Since then we have seen malign activity from Russia in a whole variety of ways, including on the streets of Salisbury in the UK.

“Before any conversations can take place about Russia rejoining, it needs to change its approach.”

Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk voiced his strong opposition to Russia being readmitted and said he had spoken to the new Italian Prime Minister on the issue.

He said: “I see a lot of speculation about G6 plus one, or G7 minus one, or G7 plus one. Let’s leave seven as it is. It’s a lucky number. Russia is less interested in this than our other partners here in Canada.”

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