Merkel objected to holding the meeting in person, which requires travel that a government spokesman suggested is unnecessary. The United States has more cases than any of the other members of the G-7: Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G-7 summit at the end of June in Washington. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington,” the spokesman said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”
The White House would not confirm Merkel’s decision to decline, which was first reported by Politico. Trump spoke with another G-7 leader, Emmanuel Macron of France, on Saturday, and the two presidents “discussed progress on convening the G7,” according to a statement from the White House.
The Trump administration had announced in March that the annual gathering of large industrial economies would take place virtually, but switched it back to an in-person meeting earlier this month.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have indicated they will attend, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to do so. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not committed, citing health concerns.
“There are significant health preoccupations that we have around holding an in-person meeting,” Trudeau said Wednesday, during a news conference. “Would we then as leaders have to self-isolate when we return, which is right now the rule in Canada?”
Abe may also have to self-isolate upon his return to Japan.
Italy’s participation is unclear.
Seung Min Kim and Souad Mekhennet contributed to this report.