Donald Trump quarrels infuse tense G20 summit

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires

Camera Icon Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at the G20 summit in Buenos

Saturday will also see a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose nations have been embroiled in an escalating trade war with new USA tariffs on China goods set to take effect a month from now. Highlighting the need to work closely towards common interests, he stressed on the need for unity among developing nations of the world.

The two-day summit beginning today is supposed to focus on development, infrastructure and food security, but those seemed largely an afterthought amid soured US-European relations and as the United States, Mexico and Canada hammered out the final language of a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement expected to be signed today.

Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that Trump had to look at how to increase tariffs on Chinese vehicle imports from 27.5% to 40%, to bring them in line with the tariffs China levies on U.S. auto imports-China imposes lower tariffs of 15% on imports from other countries.

As world leaders flocked into the summit room to take their seats, Mohammad bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin embraced each other with a friendly and enthusiastic high-five-shake and big smiles.

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.

"We've just gotten to know each other and, so far, so good", was his estimation of Mr Morrison from the outset, before adding "I think it's going to be a great relationship".

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Merkel voiced her concern about the situation when she met Putin on the sidelines of the summit. A White House official confirmed the two exchanged pleasantries during a leaders' session.

But with a major United Nations meeting on climate change starting next week in Poland straight after the G20, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said in Buenos Aires that "this is a make-it-or-break-it moment".

The nonbinding agreement came in Buenos Aires, where the leaders are meeting, after all-night talks over the specifics of the language.

Global financial markets will take their lead next week from the outcome of talks between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping over dinner on Saturday, aimed at resolving differences that are weighing on global economic growth. Trump later said "we had no discussion", though he held out the prospect of spending more time with the crown prince. The Kremlin said it was willing to be "patient" in arranging a meeting with Trump.

China also pushed back in talks on steel, South Africa objected to language on trade, Australia did not want the statement to be too soft on migration and Turkey anxious it would push too far on climate change, according to the officials.

The 20 government leaders - as well as representatives of other invited nations and global institutions - were welcomed on stage at the Costa Salguero Center, the venue for the 13th G20 summit, on the shores of the Rio De La Plata.

As soon as he arrived, bin Salman was confronted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who pressed him on the Khashoggi investigation and the Saudi-backed war in Yemen.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that the Europeans also agreed to USA demands to leave out of the statement tenets that protectionism and trade disputes are bad for the economy, and that global institutions are useful.

On the trade war front, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday trade talks between the USA and China have been heating up ahead of the summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "Everyone agrees that the WTO should be reformed".

Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May both raised the murder of Khashoggi during meetings with the 33-year-old prince.

"As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the first lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin", spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

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