WORLD POLITICS: First Handshake: Putin, Trump Meet at G20 Summit

By Politicoscope July 7, 2017 14:09

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WORLD POLITICS: First Handshake: Putin, Trump Meet at G20 Summit

US president Donald Trump will hold his first bilateral talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday afternoon after a brief handshake at the Group of 20 talks in Hamburg.

The two-day talks began amid tight security following a night of running street battles that left 159 police and dozens of protestors injured and ended in 45 arrests and 12 detentions.

Following the opening session, summit host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urged leaders to hold open, conciliatory talks to “allay the fears and anxieties” of people around the world.

“Pressing solutions can only be found if we are ready to compromise and accommodate others’ views without bending over backwards too much and giving up our principles,” Dr Merkel said. “We can also say where we differ.”

After a morning session discussing terrorism, and an afternoon discussion on climate and energy, leaders had a working lunch to debate global trade issues.

Before those talks senior EU officials warned that they were prepared for all eventualities in Hamburg, including any US protectionist measures on steel imports.

Amid signals that the US may use the G20 meeting to announce tariffs on steel imports, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the EU could react “within a few days”.

“We hope counter measures are not required … but we are in a fighting mood,” Mr Juncker said .

European Council president Donald Tusk, also attending talks, said that failure to agree robust measures to curb migration and human trafficking would be “proof of the hypocrisy of some G20 members”.

Mr Tusk proposed imposing sanctions on human traffickers and welcomed the “surprisingly promising” words from the US president on transatlantic co-operation in a Warsaw speech on Thursday.

“We have been waiting a long time to hear these words,” he said. “The real question is whether it was a one-time incidence or a new policy…the first test will be our meeting here in Hamburg.”

Putin and Trump
Mr Putin and Mr Trump are due to hold detailed one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the summit later on Friday.

When asked if Mr Putin was looking forward to the talks and whether he had lots of questions for Mr Trump, Mr Peskov replied that he did.
The Russian leader had been fully briefed about Mr Trump’s description on Thursday of Moscow’s behaviour as destabilising, Mr Peskov added, and would take that and other remarks by US officials into account.

The US president’s encounter with Mr Putin will be intensely scrutinised following allegations by US intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the US election to help Mr Trump win.

The summit also brings together Mr Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping at a time when Washington is increasing pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea after it test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile and threatening the Chinese with punitive trade measures.
As delegation negotiators face into another round of all-night haggling on a final summit text on climate, trade and security issues, leaders are holding dozens of bilateral meetings during the two days.

This evening leaders and their partners will attend a gala evening at Hamburg’s new landmark, the Elphilharmonie concert hall.

Security will be stepped up around that event after overnight street battles and renewed scuffles took place early on Friday morning, as peaceful demonstrators blocked several routes to the Hamburg trade fair, where the G20 meeting is taking place.

While demonstrator blockades caused only minor delays to leaders’ convoys, the security situation reportedly prevented US first lady Melania Trump taking part in the official partners’ programme, hosted by Dr Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson was also held up by an estimated 500 masked demonstrators while German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble abandoned plans to attend an outreach event with school children.

Further away from the event, particularly in the western city centre, dozens of cars and bins were set alight. Several riots in the Altona district saw a police station attacked while beyond that, in a stretch along the Elbe river leading to the upmarket Blankenese district, at least 30 cars went up in flames.

Beyond the immediate security zone around Hamburg’s trade fair, and isolated pockets of violence, life was quieter but relatively normal in the rest of Hamburg.

A peaceful demonstration in the harbour district on Friday morning went ahead without any problems, though police said they are braced for further violence later this evening.

Hamburg authorities have conceded they lost control of the situation on Thursday evening when they fired water cannon and pepper spray and baton-charged the crowd. Their tactics have been widely condemned as heavy-handed and provocative.

“We tried to separate the peaceful from violent demonstrators and that didn’t succeed,” said Mr Timo Zill, Hamburg police spokesman, who took refuge in an ambulance after being attacked by protestors.

“There was an explosion of violence, the likes of which we’ve never seen and had no option but to react.”

Though around 19,000 police are already on the ground in Hamburg, city authorities have requested further reinforcements from elsewhere in Germany ahead of what is likely to be a second violent night in Hamburg.

– Irish / Reuters

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By Politicoscope July 7, 2017 14:09

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