Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump is scrapping this year's G7 summit at Camp David near Washington due to the coronavirus crisis and will instead hold the event by videoconference, the White House said Thursday.
The United States heads the group of seven wealthy democracies in 2020 and Trump had been due to host fellow leaders at the presidential retreat known as Camp David in June.
Instead, the summit will now take place remotely "in order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
Trump's national economic director Larry Kudlow, who is the US pointman for the summit, informed his counterparts of the decision, Deere said in a statement.
"The White House also informed the other G7 members that in order to continue close coordination, the president will convene the leaders via video teleconference in April and May just as he did this week," he said.
In a call between Trump and France's President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday they agreed "to continue close cooperation on resolving the pandemic and minimizing its economic impact, in coordination with the G7 and other international partners," the White House said separately.
G7 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- 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.
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.