In this paper, we set up the general formulation to study distinguished residual representations of a reductive group G by the relative trace formula approach. This approach simplifies the argument of [JR], which deals with this type of relative trace formula for a special symmetric pair (GL(2n), Sp(2n)) and also works for non-symmetric, spherical pairs. To illustrate our idea and method, we complete our relative trace formula (both the geometric side identity and the spectral side identity) for the case (G 2, SL(3)).
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