G-20 summit begins in Argentina amid big-power tensions

Andrew Cummings
December 1, 2018

"The summit seems a nonsense to me", call center worker Agustina Vianello, 25, told AFP.

The leaders of countries representing four-fifths of the global economy opened a two-day meeting in Argentina facing the deepest fractures since the first G20 summit convened 10 years ago in the throes of financial crisis.

While Trump canceled his meeting with Putin, the United States president was still scheduled to meet with China's Xi, but analysts were not optimistic about prospects for a major breakthrough on their countries' trade disputes a month before U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are set to ramp up.

Both sides discussed how to further cooperate in areas such as the promotion of trade and investment, agri-food exports, and educational exchanges, said the PMO.

The trade war between the two economic giants may possibly even escalate.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron hinted that he would raise the issue of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded had ordered the killing.

And with G20 summits a magnet for protesters, security forces are on high alert.

Mr Trump said he would not meet the Russian leader "based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned".

As it stands, tariffs have been levied by the Trump administration on around half of all Chinese goods imported to the U.S., with a value of about $US250 billion.

Moscow said United States domestic politics may have been the real reason behind the cancellation after Michael Cohen, Trump's former longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow.

How intense is the trade war?

What Mr Trump appeared to lack in understanding of events within the Liberal party room, he made up for in enthusiasm towards Mr Morrison's achievements in his first three months in office.

In such a scenario, China has threatened to retaliate in kind, placing levies on all goods imported from the US.

Trump has apparently been attempting to not only curb massive USA trade deficits with China but also to sell US products in Chinese markets without concern about intellectual property and technology theft, diplomatic sources said.

"I know you've done a fantastic job in a very short period of time", he said. "I do not think there was a reference in those terms", Faurie told reporters earlier on Friday, adding that the meeting was handled in a cordial way.

Worldwide indignation over Khashoggi's murder, which was carried out inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, continued on Thursday as Canada slapped sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals allegedly linked to his murder.

Putin would be one of several leaders to meet the Saudi prince, who is also expected to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.

Morrison said Australia and the U.S. "have always been the greatest of friends".

Just what is the G20?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday met Dutch prime minister and Chinese president on the sidelines of G20 Leaders' Summit in Argentine capital Buenos Aires. A chance to show world leaders that with Mauricio Macri at the helm, the country meant business.

Mr Trump did not specify in his remarks, or privately to Mr Morrison, which "things" had most captured his attention, but the Prime Minister later ran through a checklist of measures, including his Government's commitment to trade, extra engagement in the Pacific region and a review of the Iran nuclear deal. It's not great timing for a president who is expected to seek re-election next year.

And while over the next few days Mr Macri will want to make a good impression for his visitors, he's struggling with his reputation closer to home.

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