Saudi Calls For ‘Virtual’ G20 Summit Over Virus

This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a scanning electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19, the virus shown was isolated from a patient in the US. Handout / National Institutes of Health / AFP.

 

Saudi Arabia has called for a “virtual” summit of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies next week to address the coronavirus pandemic, a statement said Wednesday.

“The Saudi G20 presidency is communicating with G20 countries to convene an extraordinary virtual G20 leaders’ summit next week to advance a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications,” the statement said.

“G20 Leaders will put forward a coordinated set of policies to protect people and safeguard the global economy.”

The announcement comes after G20 financial chiefs voiced “real concern” last month at a summit in Riyadh over the economic shock waves from the spread of the deadly virus.

Since then, global stock and oil markets have slumped amid heightened concerns over the worsening outbreak.

Most market commentators agree that the virus-wracked world economy will likely plunge into recession, which means a minimum of two successive quarters of economic contraction.

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The United States and Britain are spearheading a multi-billion-dollar international fightback against economic havoc unleashed by the coronavirus, as the European Union shuts its borders to travellers from outside for 30 days.

The summit’s announcement by Saudi Arabia, the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency, comes amid some criticism that the G20 group was slow to address the pandemic.

“The G20 is missing in action today, unlike 2008,” Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, said on Twitter.

Another commentator wrote on Twitter: “No one told the Saudis anything about managing a crisis. They said ok to host a big event that would improve their image!”

Saudi Arabia itself is bracing for a coronavirus-led economic slump after it shut down cinemas, malls and restaurants, suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage and locked down eastern Qatif region — home to around 500,000 people — in a bid to contain the deadly virus.

The top crude exporter also faces plummeting oil prices, which slipped below $30 a barrel this week for the first time in four years, on the back of sagging demand and a price war with Russia.

The Saudi presidency is set to see it host world leaders for a summit in Riyadh from November 21 to 22.

It will hold more than 100 events and conferences in the run-up to the summit, including ministerial meetings, organisers say.

Human rights groups have urged G20 member states to exert pressure on the kingdom over its intensifying crackdown on dissent, which has seen women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed.

AFP

Trump Departs South Korea After Historic Meeting With Kim Jong Un

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to depart South Korea in Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, following his meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump left South Korea on Sunday after a trip to Asia that took in a G20 summit in Japan and a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula.

Trump departed on Air Force One just before 1000 GMT (7 pm local time) en route to Washington, a few hours after he became the first sitting US president to step onto North Korean soil.

Moments after becoming the only sitting US president to set foot inside North Korea on Sunday, Trump brought Kim back over the dividing line for a meeting where they agreed to start working-level talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

Trump also said he had invited the young leader to the White House “anytime he wants to do it”.

“It’s a great day for the world and it’s an honour for me to be here,” Trump said. “A lot of great things are happening.”

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As they sat down for discussions, Kim said their “handshake of peace” in a location that was “the symbol of the division of north and south” showed that “we are willing to put the past behind us.”

The impromptu meeting in the DMZ — after Trump issued an invitation on Twitter on Saturday — came with negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington at a deadlock.

Their first summit took place in a blaze of publicity in Singapore last year but produced a vaguely-worded pledge about denuclearisation. A second meeting in Vietnam in February intended to put flesh on those bones broke up without agreement.

Contact between the two sides has since been minimal — with Pyongyang issuing frequent criticisms of the US position — but the two leaders exchanged a series of letters before Trump turned to Twitter to issue his offer to meet at the DMZ.

Trump’s entry onto North Korean soil — which he said was uncertain until the last moment — is an extraordinary sequel to the scene at Kim’s first summit with Moon last year when the young leader invited the South Korean to walk over the Military Demarcation Line, as the border is officially known.

Moon seized on last year’s Winter Olympics to broker the process between Pyongyang and Washington after tensions soared in 2017 as the North carried out multiple missile launches and its biggest nuclear test to date, while Trump and Kim traded mutual insults and threats of war.

The significance of the meeting in the no-mans-land often referred to as the world’s last Cold War frontier was “obvious”, said Stimson Centre Asia analyst David Kim.

“It’s historic for Trump to be the first US President enter North Korea soil, historic for Moon to meet, albeit briefly, with both leaders.”

The meeting had the “potential to kick-start stalled negotiations”, he told AFP but added that working-level discussions would be crucial.

“What we need is substance, not theatrics.”

The Hanoi summit foundered amid disagreements on what the North — which has carried out six nuclear tests and developed missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland — would be willing to give up in exchange for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst now with RAND Corporation, said the North’s “gravitational force has pulled Trump across the DMZ”, calling it an “alluring elixir of wile, threatening rhetoric, stalling, and dangling of the remote possibility of resuming dialogue”.

Such a meeting has long been sought by the North, but “Kim didn’t have to lift a finger to get Trump to cross the DMZ”, she added. “It was, in all appearances, by Trump’s volition.”

The DMZ has been a regular stop for US presidents visiting the South, a security ally — although Trump’s helicopter was forced to turn back by fog in 2017 — while Panmunjom saw the first two summits between Moon and Kim last year.

AFP

Trump Jokes With Putin: Don’t Meddle In Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019.
Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Much of Donald Trump’s time in office has been overshadowed by allegations Moscow helped get him elected, but when it came to confronting Vladimir Putin on the issue, the US President did it in a joke.

“Don’t meddle in the election, president, don’t meddle,” Trump said with a smile, wagging his finger playfully at the Russian leader as the pair held talks in Osaka on Friday, on the sidelines of the G20.

Putin said nothing but grinned in response to the comment, which came only after a reporter shouted a question, asking whether Trump would warn his Russian counterpart about influencing the presidential vote next year.

The meeting was the first time the two leaders have held face-to-face talks since a controversial meeting last year in Helsinki.

Trump has been dogged throughout his presidency by allegations of suspicious ties to Russia.

A major probe led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller found there was an organised Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election won by Trump.

It found contacts between Russian operatives and Trump’s election campaign, but no evidence of a joint plot, and the US leader has characterised the findings as exonerating him.

Ahead of his meeting with Putin, Trump brushed aside questions from reporters about what they would discuss.

“What I say to him is none of your business,” he said at the White House.

But on Friday Trump said the pair would be discussing “trade… some disarmament, a little protectionism perhaps.”

“A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship,” he predicted, to smiles from Putin.

“I cannot but agree with Mr. President,” the Russian leader said.

G20 Summit Officially Opens In Japan’s Osaka

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, French President Emmanuel Macron, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman, Japan Prime Minister Shinxo Abe, Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, (Second row L-R) Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, British Prime Minister Theresa May, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, European Union President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Senegal President Macky Sall, Chile President Sebastian Pinera and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and third row’s invited guests attend the family photo during the G20 Osaka Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019.

 

Leaders of the Group of 20 opened a high-stakes summit in Japan’s Osaka on Friday that is expected to be one of the most fractious in years.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the meeting, which will be dominated by contentious discussions on trade, geopolitical tensions, and climate change.

But the mood appeared friendly in the opening minutes, with smiles on the faces of the arriving leaders as they posed for the traditional “family photograph”.

US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping, whose countries are mired in a damaging trade war, exchanged a handshake before the photo.

And as the leaders headed into the first session, French President Emmanuel Macron leaned down to whisper something into Trump’s ear, covering his mouth for privacy as he did so.

The first session of the meeting is focused on the digital economy, with concerns about privacy and security on the agenda.

“Digitalisation has rapidly changed various aspects of our society and economy,” Abe said as he opened the session.

“I’m happy to see the momentum to globally tackle the digital economy.”

But in a sign of the ongoing tensions likely to dominate talks, Trump appeared to make reference to US concerns about the security threat posed by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.

As “we expand digital trade, we must also ensure the resilience and security of our 5G networks”, he said.

Trump’s administration has taken measures to ban Huawei, with China reportedly seeking an end to the restrictions as part of any resumption of talks on resolving the trade war.

The summit is being overshadowed by the trade war between the world’s top two economies, with hopes that Xi and Trump can reach a truce when they hold talks on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit.

AFP

Trump Cancels G20 Conference ‘Out Of Respect’ To Bush Family

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are pictured after signing a new free trade agreement in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. The revamped accord, called the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), looks a lot like the one it replaces. But enough has been tweaked for Trump to declare victory on behalf of the US workers he claims were cheated by NAFTA. Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

United States President, Donald Trump has cancelled the G20 press conference ‘out of respect’ to Bush family.

Trump was scheduled to hold a press conference planned for Saturday at the G20 summit.

But the US President aborted the conference because he wanted to show respect to the family of late president George H.W. Bush.

“Out of respect for the Bush Family and former President George H.W. Bush we will wait until after the funeral to have a press conference,” Trump tweeted.

Bush, the 41st president, died Friday at 94.

Details soon…

World Leaders Welcome Saudi Prince At G20, Avoiding Isolation

L-R) Brazil’s President Michel Temer, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Donald Trump line for the family photo during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

World leaders welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday at the G20 summit, showing he was no pariah less than two months after the kingdom killed a dissident journalist.

The 33-year-old heir apparent was seen chatting with US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at the start of a two-day meeting of the world’s top economies in Buenos Aires.

Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin both grinned broadly and shook hands robustly as leaders converged for a group photo.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she would meet Prince Mohammed.

She said she would press the crown prince both on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“The Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it’s credible, that it’s transparent, and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it, and that those responsible are held to account,” May told Sky News.

Macron told reporters before meeting the prince that he will “no doubt” mention the death of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was killed when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The killing has sparked widespread outrage but Western powers have pledged to maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia, a top oil producer and buyer of US weapons.

Trump, in an exclamation-heavy statement before the summit, said it did not matter whether Prince Mohammed knew about Khashoggi’s death and that Saudi Arabia was important for business and for its hostility to Iran.

The US Senate nonetheless moved this week to end support for the Saudi-led war against rebels in Yemen amid outrage over attacks on civilian sites including a school bus and hospitals.

AFP

Putin At G20 Denounces ‘Vicious’ Sanctions

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) is welcomed by Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri at Costa Salguero in Buenos Aires during the G20 Leaders’ Summit, on November 30, 2018. 
Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denounced the “vicious” use of sanctions and trade protectionism, in a veiled swipe at Donald Trump at a G20 summit.

“A vicious practice of returning to illegal, unilateral sanctions and protectionist measures is spreading, going around the UN Charter, the rules of the WTO and internationally recognized legal norms,” Putin told leaders of emerging economies as the summit opened in Buenos Aires.

AFP

US Signs New USMCA Trade Deal With Mexico, Canada

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are pictured after signing a new free trade agreement in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

The leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada on Friday signed a new trade deal replacing the old NAFTA in a triumph for President Donald Trump who insisted on what he said were better conditions for US workers.

“This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever,” Trump said at the signing ceremony in Buenos Aires, on the sidelines of a summit between the leaders of the G20 countries.

Merkel To Arrive Late For G20 Summit After Plane Malfunctions

German Chancelor Angela Merkel gets off her plane as she aChancellor Yerevan as part of her three day visit to South Caucasus former Soviet States – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Merkel will not attend the opening of the G20 summit after an emergency landing on November 29, 2018 in Cologne. Karen MINASYAN / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to arrive in Buenos Aires on Friday evening, far later than planned but still in time to attend a G20 dinner after “serious” technical problems forced her plane to make an emergency landing.

The government Airbus A340-300 made an unscheduled landing in Cologne shortly after leaving Berlin on Thursday, causing a delay that means Merkel will miss the start of the two-day G20 summit in the Argentine capital.

“It was a serious malfunction,” Merkel, who had to spend the night in a hotel in nearby Bonn because no replacement plane was immediately available, told reporters.

German media reports said the plane suffered a complete breakdown of the on-board communication system, a problem described as extremely rare.

The German air force ruled out sabotage, with a spokesman saying “there is absolutely no indication of a criminal act.”

Merkel will now travel to the G20 with a vastly slimmed-down delegation.

The group flew to Madrid in a German air force plane in the early morning, a government spokeswoman told DPA.

From there, the delegation is set to board a regular commercial flight to Buenos Aires.

Merkel was due to hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US leader Donald Trump on the sidelines of the summit on Friday, but her delayed arrival has thrown her schedule into disarray.

She will also miss the traditional G20 “family photo” of attending heads of state and government, according to DPA.

AFP

Macron Has No Escape From ‘Yellow Vest’ At G20 Summit

French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd R) and First Lady Brigitte Macron leave the plane upon arrival at Ezeiza airport, in Buenos Aires province, on November 28, 2018. Global leaders gather in the Argentine capital for a two-day G20 summit beginning on Friday likely to be dominated by simmering international tensions over trade.  ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

Heading to a G20 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron may have hoped for some respite from swelling protests at home that have adopted yellow vests as their emblem.

But as he got off his plane in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, the very first person he saw was clad in just such a hi-viz item — an airport employee.

The French leader shook the hand of the worker, who opened the aeroplane door, before a more official greeting on the tarmac to Macron and his wife Brigitte by Argentina’s Vice President Gabriela Michetti.

Yellow vests, the highly visible jackets worn by emergency workers, have become an emblem of increasingly forceful protests in France sparked by higher fuel taxes.

Macron is hoping to reduce carbon emissions and face the long-term challenge of climate change, but protesters say low-income families are hit hardest.

AFP

G20 Summit: German Police Fire Water Cannon At Demonstrators

German Police fired water cannon and pepper spray at protesters gathered to demonstrate against a G20 summit in Hamburg on Thursday after a group of black-clad demonstrators threw bottles and other objects at riot police.

Police expected around 100,000 protesters from around Europe, who say the G20 has failed to solve many of the issues threatening world peace, to gather for the demonstration dubbed “Welcome to Hell” by the anti-capitalist groups behind it.

British PM “jokes” over introduction of goal line technology

With debates for the introduction of the goal line technology getting heated, British Prime Minister David Cameron, on Tuesday joked that, he may drop his support for goal line technology.

His remark is coming after the English team benefited from referee’s error in the on-going Euro 2012 group stage match against Ukraine.

England defender, John Terry cleared a ball after it had clearly crossed the goal line but despite the introduction of a fifth official, the error went unnoticed. The goal would have brought the game to 1-1 and probably could have changed the course of the game.

England beat Ukraine 1-0 in Tuesday’s match, qualifying for the quarterfinal knockout stage in the process.

Asked about the game at a news conference at the G20 summit in Mexico, Cameron was happy to offer his warm congratulations, but a little artful when asked if the mistake should lead to the introduction of sensors to confirm goals.

He referred back to the 2006 World Cup match in which England was the team on the wrong end of a bad refereeing decision.

“Goal-line technology?” he pondered.

“I remember thinking it was a thoroughly good idea when Frank Lampard was disappointed in that previous England-Germany game. I’ll have to reflect a little bit further but don’t expect an immediate U-turn,” he joked.

England’s win sets up a quarter final clash with Group C runner up, Italy on June 24.

Blatter succumbs

Meanwhile, Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, has confirmed that goal-line technology is ‘no longer an alternative but a necessity’.

He took to the social networking site, Twitter, to voice his opinion on the issue. “After last night’s match #GLT [Goal-line technology] is no longer an alternative but a necessity” he posted.

However, the extra officials appear to have made little difference with many still calling for goal-line technology to be deployed.