World leaders on Friday ratcheted up pressure on U.S. President Donald Trump to compromise on climate and trade as a Group of 20 summit got underway in Germany amid clashes between police and protestors.
In a joint communique issued as the leaders gathered in a vast convention centre in Hamburg, Brazil, Russia, India and China, BRICS countries, called on the G20 to push for implementation of the Paris climate deal despite Trump’s decision in Jume to pull the United States out of it.
“The Paris agreement on climate change is an important consensus that doesn’t come easily and must not be given up easily,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said G20 leaders would urge Trump to reconsider his decision on Paris.
“We are not renegotiating the Paris agreement, that stays, but I want to see the U.S. looking for ways to rejoin it,” she told the BBC.
The meeting comes at a time of major shifts in the global geo-political landscape, with Trump’s “America First” policies pushing Europe and China closer together.
Trump will meet President Vladimir Putin for the first time on Friday afternoon, an encounter that will be intensely scrutinised following allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the U.S. election to help Trump win.
The summit also brings together Trump and Xi at a time when Washington is raising pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea and threatening the Chinese with punitive trade measures.
Amid the big egos and seemingly intractable conflicts, the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, faces the daunting task of steering leaders towards a consensus on trade, climate and migration, all issues that have become more contentious since Trump entered the White House half a year ago.
She faces an election in a little more than two months and cannot appear to cave in to Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Germany.
Nor will she be keen for an open confrontation that could deepen tensions with Washington.
“There is quite a delicate balance that Angela Merkel will have to navigate in a way, because it is not clear that being confrontational won’t just create even more of a credibility problem for G20 cooperation,” Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told Reuters in an interview.
Merkel chose Hamburg, the trading hub where she was born, to send a signal about Germany’s openness to the world, including its tolerance for peaceful protests.
The summit is being held only a few hundred meters from one of Germany’s most potent symbols of left-wing resistance, a former theater called the “Rote Flora” which was taken over by anti-capitalist squatters nearly three decades ago.
German security officials have been clear that holding a summit of this scale in the center of a city like Hamburg comes with big risks.
After a night of clashes with police, groups of anti-capitalist protesters sat on the main intersections in Hamburg, blocking streets and bridges leading to the summit venue in the city center as well as a road used by container trucks at Hamburg Port.
The blockades forced German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to cancel a discussion with pupils at a school in the city.
Police have used water cannon to clear roads that G20 officials are using.
About 30 protesters have been arrested and more than 100 police officers injured.