Trump vs the rest at vi­o­lent G20

US leader wins climate, trade con­ces­sions

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

World lead­ers made con­ces­sions on trade and climate lan­guage to Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day at the end of the most frac­tious and riot-hit G20 sum­mit ever, in ex­change for pre­serv­ing a frag­ile unity of the club of ma­jor in­dus­tri­al­ized and emerg­ing economies. In a de­par­ture from fi­nal sum­mit dec­la­ra­tions that tend to out­line con­sen­sus on is­sues that range from fight­ing terrorism to fi­nan­cial gov­er­nance, the ex­tra­or­di­nary con­clu­sions this year spelled out dif­fer­ences on core is­sues.

It ac­knowl­edged Trump’s de­ci­sion to go his own way on tak­ing the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate ac­cord and clearly stated Wash­ing­ton’s wish to con­tinue us­ing and sell­ing fos­sil fu­els that are a main driver of global warm­ing. The dec­la­ra­tion also stated for the first time the right of coun­tries to pro­tect their mar­kets with “le­git­i­mate trade de­fense in­stru­ments” - word­ing that es­sen­tially gives Trump wig­gle room to push on with his “Amer­ica First” pol­icy.

Trump, car­ried to the White House on a wave of pub­lic fury over dein­dus­tri­al­iza­tion in vast ar­eas of the United States, had launched “Buy Amer­i­can” and “Hire Amer­i­can” cam­paigns. The na­tion­al­is­tic stance has set him on col­li­sion course with many of Amer­ica’s al­lies, who warned Trump against an iso­la­tion­ist path and start­ing a round of trade war.

“Where there is no con­sen­sus, the com­mu­nique spelt out the dis­cord,” said host Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who was praised by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin for find­ing an “op­ti­mal com­pro­mise” on the touch­i­est is­sue of climate.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron also hailed the ap­proach, say­ing that the club found an “in­dis­pens­able bal­ance” through the text and halted any back­slid­ing on fight­ing climate change, which is blamed for melt­ing ice caps, ris­ing seas and se­vere weather events. The French leader, at his first G20 gath­er­ing, also took the op­por­tu­nity to an­nounce a new climate sum­mit for Dec 12, which he said would fo­cus on climate fi­nanc­ing.

If the meet­ings within the tightly se­cured G20 sum­mit venue were any­thing but har­mo­nious, out­side, chaos and vi­o­lence gripped Ger­many’s second city. Ten min­utes’ walk from the sum­mit venue, charred road bar­ri­cades, trashed shops, de­bris and shat­tered glass bore tes­ti­mony to an an­ar­chic Fri­day night of street clashes be­tween protesters and po­lice, when com­man­does chased mil­i­tants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes had blocked US First Lady Me­la­nia Trump at her res­i­dence on Fri­day, forc­ing her to miss a tour of Hamburg har­bor, and for G20 or­ga­niz­ers to com­pletely al­ter a pro­gram for spouses of vis­it­ing lead­ers. Yes­ter­day, thou­sands of anti-riot cops were again on guard, as helicopters hov­ered over­head, with at least 20,000 demon­stra­tors on the march again.

Within the sum­mit walls, world lead­ers were danc­ing a del­i­cate diplo­matic waltz, with dis­cord not only dog­ging the main G20 con­fer­ences, but also adding ten­sion to the at­mos­phere in bi­lat­eral asides. Host Merkel her­self ad­mit­ted that “deep dif­fer­ences” re­main with Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan af­ter they met on the side­lines of the sum­mit.

But it was Trump’s first head-to-head with Rus­sia’s leader Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin that stole the show. Af­ter scor­ing at his Rus­sian en­counter, Trump turned to an­other thorny meet­ing, this time with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. North Korea’s first in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test an­nounced this week was the key is­sue, with Trump warn­ing Thurs­day that Py­ongyang’s mil­i­tary sabre-rat­tling would bear “con­se­quences”. En­ter­ing into talks, Trump told his Chi­nese coun­ter­part that “some­thing has to be done” on North Korea. “It may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer that you’d like,” Trump said, “but there will be suc­cess in the end, one way or the other.”

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