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G-20 reaches compromise on climate, trade in big win for Trump

US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a panel discussion on the second day of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg on July 8. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Hamburg, Germany Jul 08, 2017, 01.52 PM (IST)

US President Donald Trump won key concessions on climate and trade Saturday from world leaders at the most fractious G-20 summit to date, in exchange for preserving the unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

In a final statement agreed by all 20 economies, 19 members including Russia, China and the European Union acknowledged Trump's decision to go his own way on taking the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said all G-20 members except US agreed that Paris agreement was irreversible. "The Communique clearly mentions US dissent and position of all others; obviously it could not be a fully common position," Angela Merkel said.

But the G-20 also accommodated Washington's wish to "work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently".

France's President Emmanuel Macron announced a summit on climate change for December 12, two years after the landmark Paris accord. He also said that he still hoped to change Trump's mind on climate.

"On December 12... I will organise a new summit in order to take new action for the climate, including on the issue of financing," he said after the G20 summit in Hamburg.

While renewing a key anti-protectionist pledge, the communique for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets with "legitimate trade defence instruments".

Such wording gives room for Trump to push on with his "America First" policy.

Carried on a wave of public fury over deindustrialisation in vast areas of the United States, Trump had promised to "Buy American" and "Hire American".

But that stance had set him against many of America's allies, who warned Trump against an isolationist path.

Nevertheless, the wording of the final agreement marked the group of top economies' decision to finally close ranks despite bitter differences.

Trail of destruction

Just behind the tightly secured G-20 summit venue, charred road barricades, trashed shops and stones, debris and shattered glass bore testimony to an anarchic night, when police commandoes with semi-automatic weapons detained militants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes had blocked US First Lady Melania Trump at her residence on Friday, forcing her to miss a tour of Hamburg harbour, and for G-20 organisers to completely alter a programme for spouses of visiting leaders.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-riot cops were on standby and helicopters hovered overhead, as some 70,000 people were on the march again, according to organisers.

US more pragmatic about Syrian war: Putin after meeting Trump

Within the summit walls, meetings have also been anything but harmonious.

All eyes were also on Trump's diplomatic waltz during the billionaire's first outing to the summit.

His most eagerly awaited encounter was a head-to-head with Russia's strongman President Vladimir Putin -- their first -- which lasted two and a quarter hours on Friday.

President Putin said today after his first meeting with his US counterpart that he expects US-Russian cooperation to improve and that Trump is "very different" in real life.

"The Trump that you see on TV is very different than the real Trump," Putin told reporters at the G-20 in Germany. "There is every reason to believe that we will be able to at least partially re-establish the level of cooperation that we need."

Putin also said that he believes the United States has become "more pragmatic" about the Syrian civil war.

"It seems to me that the US position (on Syria) has become more pragmatic. There is a comprehension that if we combine our efforts, we can achieve a lot," Putin said, a day after his first meeting with Trump at the G-20.

A day after Trump slammed Moscow's actions in Ukraine and Syria, the two men had a "robust and lengthy exchange" about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

But Tillerson, who was present at the marathon meeting, also said the two alpha-male leaders "connected very quickly" with "very clear positive chemistry".

Trump said Saturday that the tete-a-tete was "tremendous".

Looking forward to powerful trade deal with UK: President Trump

Further driving a wedge between the UK and the European Union, Trump met Saturday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and said he was looking forward to a "very powerful" trade deal "very, very quickly".

His comments came despite the EU warning London against negotiating any separate agreement before Britain's divorce from the bloc is complete.

But Trump faced another thorny meeting later, when he is due to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea's first inter-continental ballistic missile test is expected to top the discussions, with Trump warning Thursday that Pyongyang's military sabre-rattling would bear "consequences".

Trump had also said he is considering a "severe" response to its "very, very bad behaviour".

Ahead of the talks with Xi, Tillerson said the US would continue to press China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

"Our engagement is unchanged with China and our expectations are unchanged. We have not given up hope," he added.

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