Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS
Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

Berlin — US President Donald Trump meets other world leaders at Germany’s Group of 20 (G-20) summit from Friday, with conflicts looming over climate, trade and global security both inside and outside the heavily fortified venue in Hamburg.

Fears over nuclear-armed North Korea rose sharply after it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), casting another shadow over the gathering that will bring the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea to the northern German city.

About 20,000 police will guard the leaders of the G-20 big industrialised and emerging economies as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other bodies, against anticapitalist protesters who are greeting them with the combative slogan "G20 — Welcome to Hell".

But trouble is equally expected at the conference table at a time when the West and Europe are deeply divided, the post-Cold War order is fraying and China and Russia are asserting themselves on the global stage.

All eyes will be on Trump, who stunned the world by pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate pact, questioned long-standing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allegiances and dismissed free-trade principles in favour of an "America First" stance.

On North Korea, he has vowed that the regime’s goal of developing a nuclear weapon that can reach the US "won’t happen" and on Monday, angrily called on China in a tweet to "put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!" Trump plans to huddle with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to discuss the issue on Thursday evening.

He is also at the centre of heated disputes about global trade, having demanded that Germany and China reduce their huge surpluses and threatened punitive measures in fights over cars, steel and natural gas.

In the most eagerly awaited moment of the G-20, Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent accused of having aided, with hackers and fake news, the surprise ascent of the property tycoon to the White House.

The moment they shake hands is sure to see "an Olympian level of macho posturing between these two leaders, who both understand the importance of symbolism and the perception of being tough", said Derek Chollet of the German Marshall Fund of the US.


The year’s biggest diplomatic event outside the United Nations will also provide a stage for other world leaders muscling for power and regional influence. Meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged close co-operation — the diplomacy sweetened by China’s loan of two panda bears to a Berlin zoo and a huge Airbus sale to China of aircraft worth $22.8bn.

The leader of China’s regional rival Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is set to announce plans for a broad trade deal with the EU at a Brussels summit on Thursday. It is hailed as a victory for free trade that contrasts with Trump’s decision to withdraw from a transpacific regional agreement.


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