Merkel calls for G20 com­pro­mise on cli­mate

‘Chal­lenges are big, time press­ing’

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - By De­nis Dy­omkin and Thomas Escritt

GER­MAN Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel pressed fel­low G20 lead­ers to com­pro­mise at the start of talks on cli­mate and trade that have pit­ted US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump against vir­tu­ally ev­ery other coun­try in the club of lead­ing economies.

The host of the G20 sum­mit ad­dressed her coun­ter­parts on Fri­day in a hall at the Hamburg con­ven­tion cen­tre, af­ter video footage showed Trump shak­ing hands with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in their first faceto-face en­counter.

Merkel was shown talk­ing ca­su­ally with Putin as the lead­ers en­tered the hall, then join­ing French Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron in a three-way dis­cus­sion with Trump, who was seated be­tween Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping and Bri­tain’s Theresa May.

“We all know the big global chal­lenges and we know that time is press­ing,” Merkel told the group. “And so so­lu­tions can only be found if we are ready for com­pro­mise and move to­ward each other, but with­out – and I stress this – bend­ing too much, be­cause of course we can also state clearly when there are dif­fer­ences.”

Trump later held bi­lat­eral talks with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto and Putin.

The meet­ing with the Rus­sian leader is draw­ing in­tense scru­tiny, be­cause of Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign pledge to seek a rap­proche­ment with Moscow. So far he has been un­able to de­liver on that prom­ise amid ac­cu­sa­tions from US in­tel­li­gence ser­vices that Rus­sia med­dled in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the Trump cam­paign’s links to the coun­try.

Con­tentious

Merkel, who is gear­ing up for a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in Septem­ber, faces the daunt­ing task of steer­ing the G20 to­ward a con­sen­sus on trade, cli­mate change and mi­gra­tion – all is­sues that have be­come more con­tentious since Trump en­tered the White House promis­ing an “Amer­ica First” ap­proach.

Last month he pulled the US out of a land­mark in­ter­na­tional agree­ment aimed at com­bat­ing cli­mate change. And he is threat­en­ing to take puni­tive trade mea­sures in the steel sec­tor which would hit China, Germany, Canada and a host of other coun­tries.

Chi­nese state news agency Xin­hua re­ported that Pres­i­dent Xi had called on G20 na­tions to strengthen macroe­co­nomic pol­icy co-or­di­na­tion and fore­stall risks in fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

“Xi also urged G20 mem­bers to de­velop fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion and green fi­nance to make the fi­nan­cial sec­tor truly drive the de­vel­op­ment of the real econ­omy,” it said.

En­voys have been work­ing for weeks to bridge dif­fer­ences, and Euro­pean sources said they had come up with new lan­guage on the cli­mate is­sue which would be put to the lead­ers for ap­proval.

The lat­est draft com­mu­nique sticks with lan­guage about the Paris cli­mate ac­cord be­ing “ir­re­versible” but re­moves a ref­er­ence from an ear­lier ver­sion to a “global ap­proach” that some coun­tries felt could sug­gest there was a par­al­lel track to Paris.

It also in­cludes a new para­graph which says that the US will “work closely with other part­ners to help their ac­cess to and use of fos­sil fu­els more cleanly and ef­fi­ciently”. Some ex­perts were scep­ti­cal whether lead­ers would ap­prove the ref­er­ence to fos­sil fu­els, which would be a clear nod to Wash­ing­ton.

Ear­lier, lead­ers of the Brics coun­tries – Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia and China – called on the G20 to push for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Paris cli­mate deal de­spite Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull out.

As the lead­ers met, po­lice said they were send­ing re­in­force­ments from other parts of Germany to cope with thou­sands of anti-cap­i­tal­ist protesters who set fire to cars, rub­bish bins and wooden pal­lets in vi­o­lence that Hamburg’s in­te­rior min­is­ter called “fright­en­ing”.

US First Lady Me­la­nia Trump was pre­vented from leav­ing her ho­tel to join a har­bour tour be­cause of se­cu­rity con­cerns. Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble can­celled an ap­pear­ance in down­town Hamburg.

Po­lice said 160 of­fi­cers had been in­jured, 45 protesters tem­po­rar­ily de­tained and an­other 15 taken into cus­tody.

“We have to ex­pect every­thing, and we are ex­pect­ing every­thing,” Hamburg In­te­rior Min­is­ter Andy Grote said.

Merkel chose Hamburg, the port city where she was born, to send a sig­nal about Germany’s open­ness to the world, in­clud­ing its tol­er­ance of peace­ful protests.

The sum­mit is be­ing held only a few hun­dred me­tres from one of Germany’s most po­tent sym­bols of left-wing re­sis­tance – a for­mer the­atre, the “Rote Flora”, which was taken over by anti-cap­i­tal­ist squat­ters nearly three decades ago.

Back­track­ing

On the pol­icy front, sources said Wash­ing­ton was back­track­ing on lan­guage con­demn­ing trade pro­tec­tion­ism that Trump agreed to at a Group of Seven meet­ing in Si­cily in May.

The Brics coun­tries pushed back in a state­ment say­ing: “We firmly sup­port a rules-based, trans­par­ent, non-dis­crim­i­na­tory, open and in­clu­sive mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem, im­ple­men­ta­tion and en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing WTO rules and com­mit­ments, and op­pose pro­tec­tion­ism.”

‘So­lu­tions can only be found if we are ready for com­pro­mise and move to­ward each other.’

Xi Jin­ping, China’s Pres­i­dent, left, and An­gela Merkel, Germany’s chan­cel­lor, look on dur­ing a con­tract-sign­ing cer­e­mony at the chan­cellery in Ber­lin, Germany, last week. Xi and Merkel called for ex­panded trade be­tween the two na­tions, tak­ing a joint stand be­fore the Group of 20 sum­mit dur­ing a day of panda diplo­macy in Ber­lin. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

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