At G-20, possible 'breakthrough' seen after all-night talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo during their meeting at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

By ANGELA CHARLTON, PETER ORSI and LUIS ANDRES HENAO, Associated Press
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — All-night talks at the Group of 20 summit have resulted in a possible “breakthrough” on fixing the global trading system, European diplomats said Saturday as the gathering entered its crucial second and final day in the Argentine capital.
Despite deep divisions going into the summit and resistance from the United States, European Union officials said countries also are making progress on a final statement that will acknowledge problems with the World Trade Organization but commit to reforming it.
U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the WTO and taken aggressive trade policies targeting China and the EU.
One EU official told reporters that the G-20 summit’s final statement is likely to reflect 19 members supporting the Paris climate accord with the U.S. stating its opposition to it.
The official said the U.S. delegation also held up discussion of how to manage refugees and migrants, but that the final statement is expected to mention the need to manage migration on a global level.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing closed-door discussions.
Saturday will also see a highly anticipated meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose nations have been embroiled in an escalating trade war with new U.S. tariffs on China goods set to take effect a month from now.
The divisions among the world’s leading economies were evident from the moment Argentina’s president opened the summit Friday with a call for international cooperation to solve the planet’s problems.
Trump sought to use the gathering to make his own trade deals, signing a pact with Mexico and Canada to replace the North American Trade Agreement. Meanwhile, two men under heavy criticism from the West lately — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — appeared to seek refuge in each other, bonding with a tough-guy hand grab as the leaders sat down around a huge round table for talks.
On Friday, a U.S. official said progress was being made on the joint statement and the White House was “optimistic” about the document as a whole.
Laura Jaitman, the Argentine Treasury official shepherding the G-20’s financing talks, said leaders had made progress on finance and trade and was hopeful a joint statement would be possible.
“There’s a very positive message of how trade has been an engine of growth for the next decades and how it will continue in the future providing benefits for all citizens,” Jaitman said.
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said final communique does not require the signature of presidents.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri kicked off the summit by acknowledging divisions within the G-20 while urging world leaders to have a “sense of urgency” and take actions “based on shared interests.”
Also Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk urged G-20 leaders to discuss “trade wars, the tragic situation in Syria and Yemen, and Russian aggression in Ukraine.” He said the European Union is expected to extend sanctions on Moscow over its “totally unacceptable” seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews near the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame over the incident — which Trump cited in canceling a much-awaited meeting with Putin at the G-20. Russia’s foreign minister regretted the move, but said “love can’t be forced.”
Also looming large amid dozens of bilateral meetings in Buenos Aires was the gruesome slaying of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate and the participation at the summit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is alleged to have ordered the killing.
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.
Saudi Arabia has denied that bin Salman played a role, but U.S. intelligence agencies concluded he ordered the killing.
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Associated Press writers Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.