Trump, world lead­ers head into a stormy G20 sum­mit

Con­flicts loom over cli­mate, trade, global is­sues

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump meets other world lead­ers at Ger­many’s G20 sum­mit from to­mor­row, with con­flicts looming over cli­mate, trade and other global is­sues both in­side and out­side the heav­ily for­ti­fied venue. Fears over nu­clear-armed North Korea, which just suc­cess­fully tested an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic missile (ICBM), cast an­other long shadow over the gath­er­ing, which will bring the lead­ers of China, Ja­pan and South Korea to the north­ern city of Ham­burg.

Some 20,000 po­lice will guard the heads of the Group of 20 big in­dus­tri­alised and emerg­ing economies against anti-cap­i­tal­ist pro­test­ers are greet­ing them with the com­bat­ive slo­gan “G20 — Wel­come to Hell”. But trou­ble is also brew­ing at the con­fer­ence ta­ble at a time when the West and Europe are deeply di­vided, the post-Cold War or­der is fray­ing and China and Rus­sia are as­sert­ing them­selves on the global stage. All eyes will be on Trump, who had vowed North Korea’s goal of de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear weapon that can reach the US “won’t hap­pen” and has re­peat­edly pressed China to rein in its tru­cu­lent neigh­bor.

His coun­ter­parts are brac­ing for fresh sur­prises af­ter Trump stunned the world by pulling out of the 2015 Paris cli­mate pact, ques­tioned long­stand­ing NATO al­le­giances and dis­missed free­trade prin­ci­ples. “There is a dan­ger that the sum­mit will lead to po­lar­iza­tion be­tween the US and other coun­tries” on cli­mate change and other is­sues, warned Ox­ford An­a­lyt­ics econ­o­mist Adam Slater. Trade wars loom as Trump has de­manded Ger­many and China re­duce their huge sur­pluses and his ad­min­is­tra­tion has threat­ened other coun­tries with puni­tive mea­sures in bat­tles over cars, steel and nat­u­ral gas.

In the most an­tic­i­pated mo­ment of the G20, Trump will meet Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent ac­cused of hav­ing aided, with hack­ers and fake news, the sur­prise as­cent of the prop­erty ty­coon to the White House. The mo­ment they shake hands is sure to see “an Olympian level of ma­cho pos­tur­ing be­tween these two lead­ers, who both un­der­stand the im­por­tance of sym­bol­ism and the per­cep­tion of be­ing tough,” said Derek Chol­let of the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund of the United States.

Global power club

The year’s big­gest diplo­matic event out­side the UN will also pro­vide a stage for other world lead­ers muscling for power and re­gional in­flu­ence.Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who meets Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in Ber­lin on Wed­nes­day, will hold talks with re­gional ri­val Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, at a time when both in­creas­ingly worry about the threat posed by Py­ongyang. Also looming over the sum­mit will be the bloody con­flict in Syria and the frozen one in Ukraine-both in­volv­ing Rus­si­aas well as the strug­gle for Mideast dom­i­nance be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Iran.

Then there is Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, whose crack­down on al­leged coup plot­ters af­ter a 2016 putsch at­tempt has poi­soned re­la­tions with Ger­many. Trump, be­fore the sum­mit, will meet lead­ers from ex-com­mu­nist eastern Euro­pean na­tions, in­clud­ing Hun­gary’s au­thor­i­tar­ian Vik­tor Or­ban-threat­en­ing to deepen a new east-west split in the EU, which is fac­ing Brexit and still re­cov­er­ing from di­vi­sions over the debt cri­sis. The US pres­i­dent will on Thurs­day meet Merkel, the long­est-serv­ing leader and, aside from Bri­tain’s Theresa May, the only woman in the G20 club.

Street re­sis­tance

Merkel, hailed by some as the “new leader of the free world”, ad­vo­cates an in­ter­na­tion­al­ist ap­proach to global is­sues-but her G20 motto, “Shap­ing an In­ter­con­nected World”, con­trasts sharply with Trump’s go-it-alone ap­proach. The chan­cel­lor, a green en­ergy cham­pion who has al­lowed more than a mil­lion mostly Mus­lim refugees into Ger­many since 2015, said last week that “the dif­fer­ences are ob­vi­ous and it would be dis­hon­est to try to cover that up. That I won’t do.” In Ham­burg, she must walk a fine line be­tween try­ing to build a 19-1 front against Trump on key is­sues and pre­vent­ing even fur­ther dam­age to transat­lantic ties, while seek­ing com­mon ground for at least a wa­tered-down fi­nal G20 com­mu­nique.

On the streets, up to 100,000 pro­test­ers will march in some 30 ral­lies, cre­at­ing a se­cu­rity headache in Ger­many’s sec­ond-largest city. Po­lice ex­pect up to 8,000 left­wing rad­i­cals ready to use vi­o­lence. The pro­test­ers are a di­verse group of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, peace and an­tipoverty ac­tivists, united in the be­lief that the world’s elite guarded by riot po­lice is fail­ing to solve the press­ing global prob­lems. “We think that they all de­serve our protest and our re­sis­tance from the streets,” said one ac­tivist, Ge­org Is­mael, 25. “We are demon­strat­ing against the G20 be­cause we don’t think that they rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of hu­man­ity.”— AFP

HAM­BURG: The per­for­mance ‘1000 GESTAL­TEN’ with hun­dreds of peo­ple painted like clay fig­ures move slowly and silently through the streets of Ham­burg to protest against the G-20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, north­ern Ger­many yes­ter­day. The lead­ers of the group of 20 meet July 7 and 8. —AP

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