G20 opens Argentina summit under shadow of China-US tensions

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greet each other at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires.

Many major business leaders in both the United States and China are hoping for some sort of truce or partial deal in what is seen as an escalating trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

Protesters have vowed a mass rally later Friday, underlining security concerns after recent football violence forced the relocation of a showpiece final to Spain.

The two were meeting in Buenos Aires, just before Trump was due to board Air Force One for Washington after attending the summit of G20 countries.

Trump and Xi are preparing for their first face-to-face summit in more than a year. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Ahead of his visit to Argentina, the president said he would discuss with Trump the Manbij issue, a matter which continues to be an obstacle in the reconciliation of strained relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies despite a deal made for cooperation.

Investigator Robert Mueller revealed that former top Trump aide Michael Cohen had admitted direct communications with Putin's office. He said Trump is "not going away".

The leaders of the world's largest economic powers on Saturday backed an overhaul of the global body that regulates worldwide trade disputes, but couldn't reach agreement to support the Paris accord on fighting climate change.

"We're working very hard".

Trump was still scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but analysts were not optimistic about prospects for a major breakthrough on the two countries' trade disputes a month before USA tariffs on Chinese goods are set to ramp up.

Saudi prince in Argentina as G20 summit tensions brew
US stands apart as G-20 summit stumbles on trade, climate

The rising tensions have seen the two countries hit each other with tit-for-tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars in sectors from automobiles to agriculture and energy, stymying trade and redrawing global supply chains.

Reports also said British Prime Minister Theresa May told the prince in a meeting on the G20 sidelines that the killers of Khashoggi should be held to account and that Saudi Arabia should move to build confidence that such an incident would never happen again.

So Trump could use a big good news story to take home with him from Argentina.

Although the new pact inherits features from the old one, Trump has declared it a victory for the USA workers he claims were cheated by NAFTA and on Friday called it the most "modern and balanced agreement in history".

Macron on Thursday rejected those who wish to confront economic challenges by being "bellicose, isolationist and closing down borders".

On Wednesday, Trump said he canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, "Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia".

G20 summit delegates said that negotiations on producing a final statement were proceeding more smoothly than at a meeting of Asian leaders two weeks ago that ended without a consensus, but they cautioned that the draft statement still required approval from leaders. China calls the United States protectionist and has resisted what it views as attempts to intimidate it. "Climate sustainability requires urgent collective action to prevent jeopardizing our future and that of generations to come".

Meanwhile, the USA reaffirmed its intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord as other members of the group repeated their commitment to implement the Paris deal, taking into account their national circumstances and relative capabilities.

Demonstrators gathered near the National Congress building in Buenos Aires and protested against the G20's failure to address a broad range of issues, from climate change to poverty.

"Will we even have a communique?"

  • Joey Payne