G20 opens Argentina summit under shadow of China-US tensions

Gladys Abbott
December 1, 2018

World leaders are gathering in Argentina for their annual G20 summit amid new tension with Russian Federation over Ukraine and a USA trade row with China.

The group of 20 accounts for 85% of the world's GDP and two-thirds of its population.

"Just getting to know each other and so far so good, I think it's going to be a great relationship", Mr Trump said in the meeting in Buenos Aires on Friday local time. However, all eyes are on the Trump-Xi dinner meeting on Saturday, wherein the current trade tension is expected to dominate the proceedings. Trump has threatened fresh tariffs and set a January deadline for raising the existing ones from 10% to 25% on a range of goods.

Amid the ongoing trade war between the USA and China, hopes were stoked that the two presidents could reach a compromise, although a degree of scepticism has since crept in.

"I believe that both China and the United States are very keen to see a more open trading environment around the world, more trade all across the world and particularly between their two nations and we all benefit from that", he said. If we could make a deal that would be good.

"The trade discussion is very alive, so I don't think it is surprising that there will be tension from time to time ... some of the old rules are a bit clunky, they need a service", he said. "But, frankly, I like the deal we have right now", the president continued.

During a meeting with Xi in the capital of Argentina, Abe said he hopes that the US and Chinese leaders will have a fruitful discussion, according to the Japanese official.

On the eve of the summit, G20 member nations were still racing to reach agreement on major issues including trade, migration and climate change that in past years have been worked out well in advance.

"This has been an unprecedentedly long drafting", said Russia's sherpa, Svetlana Lukash.

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Diplomats from the Group of 20 countries were haggling hard over a final summit statement, with deep divisions over what language to use on the Paris climate accord and the World Trade Organization.

The escalating China-US trade war is overshadowing the meeting of the world's key leaders, which began overnight, but Mr Morrison said the US is pursuing a clear course ahead of its meeting with China on Saturday night local time.

While Trump canceled his meeting with Putin, the US president was still scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but analysts were not optimistic about prospects for a major breakthrough on the two countries' trade disputes a month before USA tariffs on Chinese goods are set to ramp up.

Moscow said USA domestic politics may have been the real reason behind the cancellation after Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in the Russian capital.

He nevertheless described the Macri-Trump meeting as "extremely cordial" overall.

The Kremlin said it had not been notified and only learned about it from the tweet. Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler arrived under swirling controversy over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

Human Rights Watch is also waiting for the crown prince, having urged Argentine prosecutors to charge him with war crimes over the Saudi-led military coalition's action in Yemen.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir discussed the importance of making progress in the investigation into Khashoggi's killing during talks in Buenos Aires on Friday, the U.S. State Department said.

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