Talk amid protests

Top na­tions strug­gle to find agree­ment on trade, cli­mate change

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Geir Moul­son

HAM­BURG, GER­MANY» Talks on global trade at the Group of Twenty sum­mit proved very dif­fi­cult and dif­fer­ences on cli­mate change also were clear, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said Fri­day, as po­lice and pro­test­ers clashed through­out the day in the sum­mit’s host city of Ham­burg.

Merkel told lead­ers of the G20 eco­nomic pow­ers that they must be pre­pared to make com­pro­mises as she worked to­ward a sum­mit out­come that ev­ery­one present could ac­cept.

That is a chal­leng­ing task at a time when Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s “Amer­ica First” rhetoric and de­ci­sion last month to with­draw from the Paris ac­cord against cli­mate change have caused wide­spread con­cern.

Ne­go­tia­tors “still have a great deal of work ahead of them” to for­mu­late a pas­sage on trade in the sum­mit’s clos­ing com­mu­nique, Merkel said af­ter the first day of meet­ings.

She added that most par­tic­i­pants called for “free but also fair trade” and un­der­lined the sig­nif­i­cance of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion, though she didn’t spec­ify which ones did not sup­port the trade lan­guage.

“The dis­cus­sions are very dif­fi­cult, I don’t want to talk around that,” Merkel said.

The Ger­man leader said most sum­mit par­tic­i­pants backed the Paris cli­mate ac­cord. Speak­ing sep­a­rately, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron spoke of “the com­mon en­gage­ment which we must take, we must de­fend, at a mo­ment when it is called in ques­tion by cer­tain peo­ple.”

“It will be very interesting to see how we for­mu­late the com­mu­nique to­mor­row and make clear that, of course, there are dif­fer­ent opin­ions in this area be­cause the United States of Amer­ica re­gret­tably ... wants to with­draw from the Paris ac­cord,” Merkel said.

Ger­many has been keen to pre­serve the G20’s tra­di­tion of mak­ing de­ci­sions by con­sen­sus. Merkel has re­jected calls from some to push for a strong “G19” state­ment — with­out the U.S. — on cli­mate change.

Open­ing dis­cus­sions ear­lier in the day, Merkel told fel­low lead­ers that there are “mil­lions of peo­ple fol­low­ing us with their con­cerns, their fears and their needs, who hope that we can make a con­tri­bu­tion to solv­ing the prob­lems.”

“We all know the big global chal­lenges, and we know that time is press­ing,” she said. “So so­lu­tions can only be found if we are pre­pared to com­pro­mise ... with­out, and I say this clearly, bend­ing our­selves too much out of shape. We can of course also name dif­fer­ences.”

The lead­ers did make a joint state­ment on fight­ing ter­ror­ism, an is­sue on which there are few dif­fer­ences. They called for en­sur­ing that there are “no ‘safe spa­ces’ for ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing any­where in the world” and pledged to work with in­ter­net providers and app ad­min­is­tra­tors to com­bat the web’s use for ter­ror pro­pa­ganda and fi­nanc­ing.

Merkel noted that the coun­tries at the sum­mit rep­re­sent two-thirds of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, four-fifths of the globe’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and three-quar­ters of world trade.

The G20 com­prises Ar­gentina, Aus­tralia, Brazil, China, Ger­many, France, Bri­tain, In­dia, Indonesia, Italy, Ja­pan, Canada, South Korea, Mex­ico, Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and the Euro­pean Union.

Also at­tend­ing are the Nether­lands, Nor­way, Spain, Guinea, Sene­gal, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam.

Merkel said the threat posed by North Korea’s mis­sile tests was brought up at Fri­day’s meet­ings by the lead­ers of South Korea and other coun­tries in the re­gion, and all hoped that “the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will find an ap­pro­pri­ate an­swer” to Py­ongyang’s vi­o­la­tion of U.N. res­o­lu­tions.

The sum­mit was also a fo­rum for a flurry of bi­lat­eral meet­ings, in­clud­ing Trump’s first en­counter with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Out­side the se­cu­rity cor­don around the down­town congress cen­ter, anti-glob­al­iza­tion ac­tivists set dozens of cars ablaze and tried un­suc­cess­fully to block na­tional del­e­ga­tions from en­ter­ing the sum­mit.

The city al­ready had boosted its po­lice with re­in­force­ments from around the coun­try and had 20,000 of­fi­cers on hand to pa­trol Ham­burg’s streets, skies and waterways. An­other 900 were called in to cope with the clashes.

Merkel thanked them for their work.

Michael Probst, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A bar­ri­cade is set on fire dur­ing a protest against the G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, north­ern Ger­many on Fri­day night. The lead­ers of the Group of Twenty meet again Satur­day.

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