The challenges facing key players at G20 summit

opinion November 30, 2018 01:00

By Agence France-Presse
Buenos Aires

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Global leaders have gathered for a G20 summit beginning today likely to be dominated by simmering international tensions over trade.



Here is what’s at stake for the main players in the Argentine capital.

United States 

US President Donald Trump, who has little interest in multilateral diplomacy, is coming to the Group of 20 summit for high-pressure talks with his counterparts in China and Russia.

Trump has cast his Buenos Aires meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a deadline for Beijing to cave on key trade disputes or risk even further sanctions and pressure. The G20 will also mark Trump’s first substantive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin since a July summit in Helsinki, where the US leader’s deferential tone drew wide rebuke at home.

Trump has resisted once-routine global calls to fight protectionism and in June took the extraordinary step of refusing to sign a statement at a summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies, furious at host Canada over trade disputes.

    

China 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to meet Trump to seek to break an impasse of their trade war on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Xi has cast himself as a defender of globalisation and opponent of protectionism, but US and European governments say foreign companies still face many hurdles to do business in the Communist-ruled country, including the forced transfer of technology or outright theft of intellectual property.

Britain 

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s appearance is overshadowed by Brexit and in particular her attempt to convince lawmakers to ratify her agreement with the EU.

The crucial vote, which could also decide the fate of her premiership, is due to be held on December 11.

She is widely expected to lose the vote because of fierce opposition from Brexiteer lawmakers within her own Conservative Party, who say it makes too many concessions to Brussels, and pro-EU MPs who say it will devastate the British economy.

May became prime minister in July 2016 in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum and has clung to power despite losing her parliamentary majority in elections in 2017.

She wants post-Brexit Britain to take a leading role on the global stage as an independent trading nation but critics say her country’s influence will wane outside of the EU.

Russia 

President Vladimir Putin arrives in Buenos Aires amid accusations from Ukraine that he’s preparing for a full-scale war after Russia shot at and captured three of Kiev’s ships.

Putin will have a face-to-face meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the summit, amid ongoing accusations that Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign team during his 2016 presidential election win.

In power since 1999, Putin is an old hand at international summits and increasingly influential, with his country at the heart of major issues like the war in Syria, EU sanctions or tensions with Ukraine and Washington.

Turkey  

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will seek to use the summit to again project his image on the international stage as a champion of the poor and oppressed as well as an un-ignorable figure in international diplomacy.

The G20 is a crucial forum for Turkey as it seeks to build ties with key African and Latin American nations to assure its status as a global power.

Erdogan is also likely to press for justice on causes close to his heart such as the Palestinians or the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

But the main focus could be on the murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at whom Turkish pro-government media and, reportedly, the CIA,  have pointed the finger of blame over the killing, expected to also attend. Erdogan and the prince have not met face to face since the crisis erupted.