Syria talks in­trude as G20 tack­les global econ­omy

The Myanmar Times - - World -

G20 lead­ers met yes­ter­day un­der pres­sure to re­boot the world econ­omy, but a stum­bling push for a Syria cease­fire and Asia’s heated ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in­truded on the sum­mit in Hangzhou.

There had been hopes of a break­through in stem­ming the Syria con­flict after the US said it was close to a deal with Rus­sia. But fran­tic diplo­macy ended in fail­ure, with Moscow ac­cused of back­track­ing.

A US of­fi­cial said “dif­fer­ences re­main” de­spite two rounds of talks be­tween Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and his coun­ter­part Sergei Lavrov on the side­lines of the sum­mit.

Pres­i­dents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin also met yes­ter­day, but it was far from clear that they could find agree­ment on the in­tractable five-year cri­sis, in which the two sup­port dif­fer­ent sides.

The Group of 20 de­vel­oped and emerg­ing economies rep­re­sents 85 per­cent of the world’s GDP and twothirds of its pop­u­la­tion.

China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has urged the lead­ers to avoid “empty talk” and con­front ris­ing pro­tec­tion­ism that threat­ens free trade.

There were fears the gath­er­ing would be short on sub­stance, with no acute cri­sis push­ing lead­ers to defy ris­ing pop­ulist sen­ti­ment and to take dif­fi­cult steps such as lib­er­al­is­ing trade.

But an EU diplo­mat said that the lead­ers made a strong stand on refugee flows, agree­ing that they were a global is­sue and the bur­den had to be shared.

The G20 will also set up a global fo­rum to mon­i­tor ef­forts to com­bat world in­dus­trial over­sup­ply, he said.

Ex­cess ca­pac­ity has sup­pressed prices and im­per­illed man­u­fac­tur­ing, and the diplo­mat added that the fi­nal com­mu­nique will crit­i­cise sub­si­dies as “a root cause of mar­ket dis­tor­tions”.

There were also plenty of dis­trac­tions serv­ing as re­minders of the geopo­lit­i­cal forces swirling around China, which sees the sum­mit as a show­case for its global lead­er­ship cre­den­tials.

Mr Xi met Ja­pan’s na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, their first en­counter in more than a year with their na­tions di­vided by ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes and re­crim­i­na­tions over his­tory.

Bei­jing and Tokyo have a long­stand­ing dis­pute over is­lands in the East China Sea con­trolled by Ja­pan, which knows them as Senkaku, and claimed by China.

A new flash­point is also emerg­ing this week, with the Philip­pines ask­ing Bei­jing to ex­plain the pres­ence of Chi­nese ves­sels near the dis­puted Scar­bor­ough Shoal.

Chi­nese dredg­ing in the area – just over 200 kilo­me­tres (125 miles) from the Philip­pines’ main is­land of Lu­zon, where US forces have a reg­u­lar pres­ence un­der a mil­i­tary pact – would rep­re­sent a ma­jor es­ca­la­tion. –

Photo: AFP

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin ar­rives at the Hangzhou Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre in Hangzhou on Septem­ber 4.

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