Trump can­cels meet­ing with Putin at G20

‘Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been re­turned to Ukraine from Rus­sia, I have de­cided it would be best for all par­ties con­cerned to can­cel the meet­ing’

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Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump says he’s can­celled a meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, cit­ing Rus­sia’s seizure of Ukrainian ves­sels.

Trump tweeted his de­ci­sion on Thurs­day af­ter de­part­ing Wash­ing­ton for a world leader sum­mit in Argentina, where he and Putin were to meet.

Trump says “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been re­turned to Ukraine from Rus­sia, I have de­cided it would be best for all par­ties con­cerned to can­cel my pre­vi­ously sched­uled meet­ing in Argentina with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. I look for­ward to a mean­ing­ful Sum­mit again as soon as this sit­u­a­tion is re­solved!”

Rus­sia re­cently seized three Ukrainian ves­sels and crews. Rus­sia said Ukraine didn’t have per­mis­sion to pass be­tween Rus­sia’s main­land and the Crimean Penin­sula. Ukraine in­sisted its ves­sels abided by mar­itime laws.

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump scrapped on Thurs­day a planned meet­ing at the G20 sum­mit with his Rus­sian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s de­ten­tion of a group of Ukrainian sailors.

“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been re­turned to Ukraine from Rus­sia, I have de­cided it would be best for all par­ties con­cerned to can­cel my pre­vi­ously sched­uled meet­ing in Argentina with Putin,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

“I look for­ward to a mean­ing­ful sum­mit again as soon as this sit­u­a­tion is re­solved!,” Trump added, shortly af­ter tak­ing off for the week­end sum­mit in Buenos Aires.

Ear­lier, Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told jour­nal­ists that Wash­ing­ton has con­firmed the meet­ing.

Peskov said the meet­ing in Argentina would start around noon on Satur­day with “brief talks be­tween the lead­ers” fol­lowed by broader Rus­sia-us talks that could last around an hour.

Peskov stressed the need for open com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the lead­ers, even if they are un­likely to agree on all the is­sues.

“We need to think about how to start talk­ing about the top­ics of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, the top­ics of strate­gic se­cu­rity and dis­ar­ma­ment and re­gional con­flicts,” Peskov said.

“We don’t have to agree on all the is­sues and in­deed that may be im­pos­si­ble but we need to talk. That’s in the in­ter­ests not only of our two coun­tries, it’s in the in­ter­ests of the whole world.”

The week­end sum­mit is con­fronted with in­creas­ingly dire warn­ings, by the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF) among oth­ers, of the po­ten­tial harm faced by the world econ­omy from Trump’s trade wars.

G20 lead­ers, whose coun­tries ac­count for four-fifths of the world’s eco­nomic out­put, first met in Novem­ber 2008 to forge a united front against the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

A decade on, that unity has van­ished as the “Amer­ica First” Trump shreds the con­sen­sus un­der­pin­ning in­ter­na­tional trade and other G20 coun­tries such as Brazil, Italy and Mex­ico turn to pop­ulist lead­ers.

Trump has al­ready rat­tled global mar­kets by en­act­ing tar­iffs on the bulk of Chi­nese im­ports, and is threat­en­ing to go fur­ther in Jan­uary.

He will press Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to avert the stepped-up tar­iffs by throw­ing open China’s mar­kets to US com­pe­ti­tion and pro­tect­ing for­eign com­pa­nies’ in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

On Wed­nes­day, US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer slammed Bei­jing for fail­ing to of­fer “mean­ing­ful re­form” on ag­gres­sive trade poli­cies, and threat­ened tar­iffs on Chi­nese au­tos.

But how far can Xi go in over­haul­ing the model that has pow­ered China to sec­ond place in the world eco­nomic rank­ings?

He did vow on Wed­nes­day that China would boost pro­tec­tion of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. But for­eign firms in China com­plain that such prom­ises are all too rou­tine and ring hol­low.

At best, an­a­lysts say, there will be a tem­po­rary truce at the G20 to give both Trump and Xi some­thing to crow about.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron warned against the risk of “a tete-a-tete be­tween China and the United States and of a de­struc­tive trade war for all” ahead of the sum­mit, in an in­ter­view with Ar­gen­tine daily La Na­cion.

“If we do not show con­crete progress, our in­ter­na­tional meet­ings be­come use­less and even coun­ter­pro­duc­tive,” he said.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Tears col­lect on the face of first lady Me­la­nia as she and Don­ald Trump at­tend a cold Na­tional Christ­mas Tree light­ing cer­e­mony at the El­lipse near the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day.

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