Trump meets Ger­man, Chi­nese lead­ers at G20

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - News - BY MARK LANDLER

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump neared the end of an at­ten­u­ated visit to the Group of 20 sum­mit here Satur­day, sit­ting down with the lead­ers of China and Ger­many, two coun­tries he has threat­ened with trade wars over what he calls their un­fair com­mer­cial prac­tices.

“We have a tremen­dous trade im­bal­ance, but we’re go­ing to get that straight­ened out,” Trump said be­fore a meet­ing with Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel of Ger­many. “We all un­der­stand each other.”

Merkel said the two lead­ers would also dis­cuss Ukraine, where a clash be­tween Rus­sian and Ukrainian ships last week caused ten­sions to flare be­tween the two neigh­bors. It was cited by Trump as the rea­son he can­celed a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin at the meet­ing in Buenos Aires.

Later Satur­day, Trump be­gan a din­ner meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China to dis­cuss ways to avoid a new round of tar­iffs that some an­a­lysts fear could pro­voke a fullfledged eco­nomic Cold War be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

“The re­la­tion­ship is very spe­cial, the re­la­tion­ship that I have with Pres­i­dent Xi,” Trump told re­porters, as he sat across a long ta­ble from the Chi­nese leader. “I think that is go­ing to be a very pri­mary rea­son why we'll prob­a­bly end up with get­ting some­thing that will be good for China and good for the United States.”

Xi replied, “Only with co­op­er­a­tion be­tween us can we serve the in­ter­est of world peace and pros­per­ity.”

China is seek­ing to pre­vent Trump from fol­low­ing through on a plan to raise tar­iffs on $250 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods to 25 per­cent, from 10 per­cent, on Jan. 1. In re­turn, U.S. of­fi­cials said, the Chi­nese were likely to of­fer to in­crease their pur­chases of U.S. soy­beans and nat­u­ral gas.

Nei­ther a dra­matic break­through nor an ac­ri­mo­nious break­down was ex­pected at the din­ner. The most likely out­come, of­fi­cials said, was an agree­ment to keep talk­ing – a truce not un­like the one that Trump agreed to re­cently with the Eu­ro­pean Union.

Trump’s sin­gle-minded fo­cus on trade with Ger­many has put Merkel in an awk­ward spot be­cause Ger­many, as a mem­ber of the Eu­ro­pean Union, can­not ne­go­ti­ate sep­a­rately on trade is­sues with the United States. Re­gard­less, the pres­i­dent in­sisted he was mak­ing progress with Ger­many and other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries.

Trump said he can­celed a news con­fer­ence planned for Satur­day af­ter­noon out of def­er­ence to the fam­ily of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who died a day ear­lier in Houston.

“The fact that we lost a pres­i­dent who truly was a won­der­ful per­son, a won­der­ful man, a great man – it re­ally puts a damper on it, to be hon­est with you,” Trump said.

Even be­fore Bush’s death, the meet­ing was shad­owed by Trump’s le­gal trou­bles back home – his for­mer per­sonal lawyer, Michael Co­hen, pleaded guilty to ly­ing to Con­gress about his deal­ings with Rus­sia on be­half of Trump – and by his trun­cated sched­ule while in Buenos Aires.

This was the kind of di­plo­matic con­clave at which Bush, a globe-trot­ting for­eign-pol­icy pres­i­dent, would have thrived. Trump’s less com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence here at­tested to how the Amer­i­can role in the world has changed dur­ing the Trump pres­i­dency.

Trump also skipped a meet­ing with Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man of Saudi Ara­bia, an­other strong­man whom he has drawn close but who has fallen into dis­re­pute. The CIA has con­cluded the crown prince played a role in the killing of Saudi dis­si­dent Ja­mal Khashoggi.

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