High tension G20 opens, dominated by Trump quarrels


Trump spent Friday in Argentina meeting with Group of 20 counterparts, projecting optimism that his "big meeting" with Xi will be fruitful, saying early in the day that he sees "some good signs" as his staff continue to negotiate with Chinese officials.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri kicked off the summit by acknowledging divisions within the G-20 while urging world leaders to have a "sense of urgency" and take actions "based on shared interests".

In a statement, they said: "The spirit and rules of the WTO run counter to unilateral and protectionist measures". "We call on all members to oppose such WTO-inconsistent measures, stand by their commitments undertaken in the WTO".

The publication said Trump could make the move as soon as next week, now that the Commerce Department has presented him with a report that he asked for on the possibility of doing so on "national security" grounds-the same justification the president used for his steel and aluminum tariffs.

Argentina's Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie told reporters that a number of issues were discussed during the meeting behind closed doors.

But Trump, arguing controversially that his trade tariffs are paying off, says he may now not want a deal with Xi, even if world markets certainly hope for one to defuse the conflict between the world's two largest economies.

"The WTO is doing all it can to support efforts to de-escalate the situation, but finding solutions will require political will and it will require leadership from the G20". In previous years, the G20's joint statement had been hammered out well in advance.

Engagement by Chinese officials with the United States side has been complicated by conflict within Trump's economic team over how to achieve the president's ultimate goal of a fair trade agreement with China.

Since March, Trump and Xi have engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war and saber-rattling as the rest of the world waits to see who blinks first. European Council President Donald Tusk said the European Union would extend its economic sanctions on Moscow this month after Russian ships fired last week on Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov, seizing the boats and sailors.

US President Donald Trump has been given a personal explanation of events that led to him meeting Scott Morrison as Australia's Prime Minister - not the man he has been used to meeting at the White House, in NY and at world summits for the last two years.

Russian Federation and Ukraine have traded blame over the weekend ship incident - which Trump cited in canceling a much-awaited meeting with Putin at the G-20.

The two leaders made headlines nonetheless through a hearty handshake ahead of the G20's family photo event.

A White House spokeswoman denied this and Trump said on Friday the ships' seizure was the "sole reason" he scratched the meeting. But Trump said he will go ahead with a dinner in the evening with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia over the incident, is also in attendance.

However, Trump made clear that he also wants to follow up on his historic June summit in Singapore as he tries to persuade the reclusive regime to give up its nuclear weapons.

However the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said he would be surprised if Mr Trump's working dinner with Mr Xi "wasn't a success".

"However, it should be feasible for some kind of agreement to be reached to prevent the dispute worsening if both sides are reasonable", it said.

The G20 summit will be accompanied by an array of diplomatic initiatives with several bilateral meetings, including ones involving Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Morrison will also begin with a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the $50 billion contract being negotiated with a French state-owned company to build Australia's newest submarine fleet.