Sat, Dec 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

G20 to open amid high tension from Trump quarrels


Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, shake hands in front of US President Donald Trump at a signing ceremony before the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

G20 powers were yesterday to open two days of summit talks after a stormy buildup dominated by tensions with Russia, and US President Donald Trump’s combative stance on trade and climate fears.

Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were to be among the world leaders gathering amid high tension over an array of world issues, including the Ukraine conflict, trade with China and relations with Saudi Arabia.

However, the two were not to sit down together after Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors.

Protesters have vowed mass rallies to harangue the world leaders gathering in crisis-hit Argentina, where recent violence between rival soccer fans has raised questions about the police’s ability to control unrest.

Trump aimed to start the summit with a victory for his “America first” trade agenda by having trade negotiators sign a successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Trump has declared it a victory on behalf of the US workers he claims were cheated by NAFTA.

Trump also has China in his sights as he prepares to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the summit today.

The US has cast talks with Xi as a deadline for China to cave on Trump’s key trade concerns.

The US leader has slapped US$250 billion in tariffs on the Asian power and threatened more to come next month.

The summit will be accompanied by an array of diplomatic initiatives with several bilateral meetings, including ones involving Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to miss the summit’s opening after her airplane was forced to make an emergency landing in Cologne, Germany, due to what she called a “serious” a technical problem.

Merkel yesterday eventually took off on a flight from Madrid bound for Buenos Aires.

Her temporary absence could complicate French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to build a European front against Trump at a meeting of EU leaders attending the G20 yesterday morning.

Macron on Thursday rejected those who wish to confront economic challenges by being “bellicose, isolationist and closing down borders.”

Among the other leaders at the summit is to be Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the focus of tensions over the alleged murder of one of his prominent critics in October.

Macron said that he would raise the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the crown prince on the sidelines of the summit.

Sources said that climate change was emerging as the biggest stumbling block to agreement on a joint communique when the summit concludes today.

With a major UN meeting on climate change starting next week in Poland, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday said in Buenos Aires that “this is a make-it-or-break-it moment.”

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