War in Syria on agenda as world lead­ers meet at G20 Tur­key sum­mit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - NICK TAT­TER­SALL and MATT SPETALNICK

IS­TAN­BUL/ WASH­ING­TON: Syria’s war, mi­gra­tion and the fight against ter­ror­ism will force their way on to the agenda when world lead­ers meet this week­end in Tur­key.

Lead­ers of the Group of 20 ma­jor economies (G20), in­clud­ing the US, China, Ja­pan, Rus­sia, Canada, Aus­tralia and Brazil are to meet tomorrow and Mon­day in the Mediter­ranean re­sort of An­talya pri­mar­ily to dis­cuss global eco­nomic is­sues.

But the sum­mit takes place just 500km from Syria, whose four- and- a- half year con­flict has seen Is­lamic State mil­i­tants trans­form into a global se­cu­rity threat and spawned Europe’s largest mi­gra­tion flows since World War II.

While the talks will largely fo­cus on eco­nomic chal­lenges such as boost­ing global growth, the fallout of ex­pected US rate in­creases, and China’s re­bal­anc­ing, the lead­ers will also dis­cuss the fight against ter­ror­ism and the refugee cri­sis.

Sev­eral of­fi­cials said it was only the sec­ond time that the G20, founded in 1999 to pro­mote global fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity, would for­mally tackle is­sues out­side its core re­mit of co-or­di­nat­ing in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic pol­icy.

“As the G20 lead­ers gather in Tur­key this week­end, they will have on their minds heart­break­ing im­ages of dis­placed peo­ple flee­ing coun­tries gripped by armed con­flict and eco­nomic dis­tress,” Christine Lagarde, head of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, said ahead of the sum­mit.

But with so many di­ver­gent agen­das it re­mains to be seen whether the G20 will be able to shed its “talk­ing shop” im­age. The EU expects a bat­tle to have mi­gra­tion even recog­nised as a global is­sue with some states, in­clud­ing Rus­sia and China, re­luc­tant to dis­cuss it.

Sev­eral of­fi­cials said ref­er­ence would be made to the mi­gra­tion cri­sis, al­though they doubted it would go far be­yond plat­i­tudes.

Tur­key, which has taken in more than 2.2 mil­lion refugees from Syria and Iraq and has so far largely shoul­dered the bur­den alone, is keen to have a strong state­ment.

Us­sal Sah­baz, di­rec­tor of G20 stud­ies cen­tre TEPAV, said the G20 would pre­fer to frame the refugee is­sue in terms of their pos­i­tive eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion, and a strong mes­sage was un­likely to emerge.

Eco­nomic dis­cus­sions will cen­tre on three main is­sues at the sum­mit: risks to fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity from sharply di­ver­gent mon­e­tary poli­cies in the US and Europe, China’s slow­ing growth and its tran­si­tion from an ex­port to a con­sumer econ­omy and the im­pact of slump­ing com­modi­ties prices.

A se­nior US trea­sury of­fi­cial said on Tues­day that Wash­ing­ton would urge those at the sum­mit to use mon­e­tary, fis­cal and struc­tural tools to off­set a short­fall in global de­mand. – Reuters

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