G-20 summit in Germany to discuss terror, trade, climate

AFP , Friday 7 Jul 2017

G20 protests
Demonstrators protest on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, northern Germany, where leaders of the world's top economies gather for a G20 summit (Photo: AFP)

The Group of 20 leaders' summit opened in Hamburg Friday amid ongoing protests in the German port city, with terrorism, global trade and climate change high on the agenda.

The host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, says she hopes to find "compromises and answers" on a range of issues at the two-day meeting of leading industrial and developing nations. While there's little disagreement on fighting terrorism, the first item on the agenda, prospects of finding common ground on climate change and trade look uncertain.

The gathering, at which President Donald Trump will hold his first meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, follows skirmishes Thursday evening between police and protesters at a demonstration in Germany's biggest city that was expected to be the biggest flashpoint around the summit.

Police said that at least 111 officers were hurt during the clashes, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him. Twenty-nine people were arrested and another 15 temporarily detained. Windows at the Mongolian consulate were also broken.

The city has boosted its police with reinforcements from around the country and has 20,000 officers on hand to patrol Hamburg's streets, skies and waterways.

On Friday, there were further incidents but nothing on the scale of the previous evening.

Dozens of protesters attempted to block cars from accessing the summit, which is being held at the trade fair grounds in downtown Hamburg. However, they were quickly thwarted by police. Further away in the city's Altona district, police said people set several parked cars alight and attacked a police station, though the situation quickly calmed down. Officers also used water cannons to clear away protesters blocking streets at two locations in the city.

The G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Also attending the summit are the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Guinea, Senegal, Singapore and Vietnam.

Ahead of the summit, the leaders of China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa met and called for a more open global economy. In a statement following their meeting, the so-called BRICS nations voiced support for a "rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system" and emphasized the need for increasing "the voice and representation" of emerging markets and developing countries in global economic and financial institutions.

Speaking at the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke against global trade restrictions, saying that financial sanctions on a political pretext hurt mutual confidence and damage the global economy — an apparent reference to Western sanctions against Russia.

The BRICS leaders also urged the international community to work jointly to implement the Paris climate agreement. Trump has announced the United States' withdrawal from that pact.

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