Trade, climate change, Iran focus as G-20 leaders meet

Yves Van Dam Associated Press
Thursday, June 27, 2019

OSAKA, Japan — Trade and geopolitical tensions, and the looming threat of climate change, are on the agenda as the presidents of the United States and China and other world leaders gather in Osaka, Japan, for a summit of the Group of 20 major economies.

While prospects for detente in the trade war between the U.S. and China are in the spotlight, many participating are calling for a broader perspective in tackling global crises.

"This will be a difficult G-20, there are global challenges to be met, we need to step up to avoid the climate threats, ... reform the World Trade Organization and prepare for the digital revolution," Donald Tusk, president of the European Union Council, said at a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The summit comes at a time of growing international tensions, for example, over Iran's nuclear deal, as well as disputes between the United States and China over trade and technology.

President Donald Trump arrived Thursday evening and was due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday as the G-20 meetings conclude. Accompanying him were U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said China intends to defend itself against further U.S. moves to penalize it over trade friction.

Threats by Trump to impose more tariffs on Chinese exports "won't work on us because the Chinese people don't believe in heresy and are not afraid of pressure," Geng Shuang said.

China has sought to gain support for defending global trade agreements against Trump's "America First" stance in gatherings like the G-20.

Trump has at times found himself at odds with other leaders in such international events, particularly on issues such as Iran, climate change and trade.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe has sought to make the Osaka summit a landmark for progress on environmental issues, including climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron reinforced that message on Wednesday during a state visit to Tokyo, where he described climate change as a "red line" issue for endorsing a G-20 communique.

"It's the moment to be truly in time in the face of history and to fulfill our responsibility," Macron said. "I will not sign if we don't go further in our ambition about climate change. That would mean all those summits are for nothing."

On the periphery of the Osaka meetings, activists belonging to a coalition of 50 environmental groups protested outside a coal-fired power plant in the nearby port city of Kobe.

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