G20 to focus on Paris pact: Merkel

2017-06-30 03:20:34 GMT2017-06-30 11:20:34(Beijing Time) Agencies

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared headed for a collision course with US President Donald Trump on Thursday after vowing to make a stand next week for climate protection and open markets at what is expected to be the most fractious G20 summit in years.

Merkel said discussions at the July 7-8 gathering of world leaders in Hamburg would be difficult given Trump's climate scepticism and "America First" stance, but that she was determined to seek a clear commitment to the Paris accord against global warming and a pledge against protectionism.

When Trump announced in early June he would withdraw from the Paris deal, "we knew that we could not expect discussions to be easy" at the G20 summit, Merkel told the German parliament.

"The differences are obvious and it would be dishonest to try to cover that up. That I won't do," she said, adding that the US exit from the 2015 Paris pact had made Europe "more determined than ever" to make the accord a success.

Without naming names, she also warned that "those who think that the problems of this world can be solved with isolationism or protectionism are terribly wrong" and pledged to seek a "clear signal for open markets and against sealing off" at the summit.

Trump's divergent stance has left Western allies struggling to find a common front for the G20 gathering - unlike previous summits, when differences were drawn along global north-south and east-west lines.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the volatile mix for the power meet, the list of potential minefield issues also includes the Syrian war and the diplomatic shut-out of Qatar.

With the fault lines multiplying, Merkel's Western European allies arrived in Berlin on Thursday to draw up a common battle strategy.

"Merkel has called a summit between Europeans because there is a problem with the relationship with Trump," said a diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It's necessary to ensure European cohesion because within the G20, it's complicated."

Besides the transatlantic differences, "there is also a new European division growing between east and west" particularly on the issue of refugees, noted Jean-Dominique Giuliani, president of the Fondation Robert Schuman, a Paris-based think-tank.

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