Syria talks intrude as G20 tackles global economy
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. –
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Centre in Hangzhou on September 4.