Trade and security lead Trump's ambitious G20 agenda

President Donald Trump, convinced that he alone can break stalemates with adversarial counterparts on trade ...

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 6:48 AM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 6:48 AM

President Donald Trump, convinced that he alone can break stalemates with adversarial counterparts on trade and security, will put his theory to the test in Argentina this week. Global markets and foreign capitals are eyeing him anxiously.

The G20 summit in Buenos Aires has become a fulcrum for Trump's high-stakes diplomatic gambles. By his own telling, positive meetings with the Chinese and Russian leaders this week could bring breakthroughs. But if the talks collapse, he's warned of dire consequences, including a prolonged trade war that would further roil global economies.

Argentina

Buenos Aires

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

International trade

Investigations

Latin America

North America

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

South America

The Americas

Trade and development

Ukraine

United States

US federal government

Vladimir Putin

White House

Xi Jinping

Banking, finance and investments

Diplomatic talks and summits

Financial markets and investing

G20 summits

Inter-governmental talks

International relations

Securities trading

The heightened do-or-die drama fits well into Trump's reality show outlook on world affairs, even if it leaves other leaders uneasy. Already, the President has shown he's willing to throw a central moment of the global gathering into question, telling The Washington Post on Tuesday that he may scrap his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over recent Russian aggression in Ukraine.

If it does occur, expert observers remain wary that the Trump-Putin meeting could result in a repeat of a maligned Helsinki summit in July that saw Trump forsake the US intelligence community's conclusions of Russian interference in the 2016 US election in favor of amplifying Putin's denials.

A day before he suggested his meeting with Putin might be off, Trump indicated to reporters there was blame for new tensions on the Ukrainian side, too, saying, "We do not like what's happening either way."

Putin is likely to make his case to Trump that Russia's decision to open fire and seize Ukrainian Navy ships was appropriate, and experts worry Trump will lap up that explanation as he did in Helsinki on election interference.

Diplomatic heavy lifting

Even if the Putin meeting does not happen, Trump's stay Friday and Saturday in the Argentine capital will still amount to one of his heaviest bouts of diplomacy since taking office. White House officials said he would meet with at least eight leaders during his trip, on top of the traditional G20 sessions, dinners and group photos.

Trump's isolation on the world stage is never more plain than at gatherings of his peers, including the yearly G7 and G20 summits that mark a US president's calendar. At two G7s and one G20, Trump has appeared at times out of sorts with top US allies. At a commemoration of the World War I armistice in Paris earlier this month, Trump walked to the ceremony alone, even as other leaders joined to walk together.

This time, aides have stacked the President's agenda with meetings separate from the G20 itself, placing him in back-to-back sessions that won't as easily highlight the rifts that have grown between some longtime US partners and him.

His meetings include Putin and China's Xi Jinping, along with his Argentine host, President Mauricio Macri, South Korea's Moon Jae-in, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Japan's Shinzo Abe, India's Narendra Modi and Germany's Angela Merkel.

One leader he will not meet, at least not formally: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been castigated for his country's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by many world leaders -- except by Trump, who pronounced the matter closed last week and said close US-Saudi ties would continue. The matter is likely to arise in Trump's talks with Erdoğan, who has pressed for greater punishment in response to the killing, which occurred at a consulate in Istanbul.

Unscripted for Putin, Xi?

Trump's meetings with the Russian and Chinese presidents once again spotlight his belief in the power of personal diplomacy -- and how much he is willing to let ride on his ability to leverage personal relationships forged with world leaders to achieve his policy goals.

Rather than allowing his advisers to reach meticulously negotiated agreements that he can then cement in person, Trump is entering his meetings with Xi and Putin with no clear prearranged outcomes.

That same unpredictability resulted in Trump agreeing to on-the-fly US concessions in his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last summer, including suspending joint US-South Korean military exercises. Pressed recently about how he is preparing for his meeting with the Chinese President, Trump offered the same response he had given ahead of the Singapore summit with Kim: "I've been preparing for it all my life."

Trump has made clear that his meeting with Xi could result in one of two dramatically different outcomes: a doubling-down of US tariffs on Chinese imports or a ceasefire in the trade war. What's clear is that it's all riding on the face-to-face meeting, one that will take place over a working dinner on Saturday evening that will mirror the time the two leaders met at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

"There is a good possibility that a deal can be made, and that he is open to that," Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Tuesday, citing a conversation he'd had earlier in the day with the President.

Other aides say Trump appears thirsty to strike some type of accord with Xi that would cause global markets to steady, even if the prospects for a full-scale trade agreement appear slim.

"President Trump and President Xi both have an incentive to put this dispute on hold," said Matthew Goodman, senior vice president and senior adviser for Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Jittery markets are "putting a little bit of heat on President Trump to come to some sort of deal and not move ahead with tariffs," Goodman said. "For Xi Jinping, their growth is slowing and I think there's an interest in trying to get this behind them."

But it's the President's meeting with Putin that has most concerned administration officials and outside experts, who fear a Helsinki redux that could once again strengthen Putin's hand on the world stage.

Despite his bravado, Trump has repeatedly demonstrated an aversion to face-to-face confrontations, particularly when it comes to US adversaries like Putin. This time, Trump is confronting fresh unrest in Ukraine, where Russian ships opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian vessels near Crimea over the weekend.

"The President meeting with Putin in the wake of this Kerch Strait incident is highly problematic for the United States, because there seems to be no question that the Russians were the aggressor here," said Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor and former State Department undersecretary for political affairs, pointing to Trump's first statement in the wake of the incident appearing to blame both Ukraine and Russia.

Noting that Trump has "shown no ability to stand up to Putin," Burns predicted Trump would acquiesce to the Russian leader on the Ukrainian confrontation.

"Once again the United States is going to be in a position of looking weak, of not acting strongly in opposition to what the Russians are doing," Burns said.

Trump appeared to harden his stance on Tuesday, suggesting his meeting with Putin could be scrapped in the wake of the events in Ukraine.

"Maybe I won't have the meeting. Maybe I won't even have the meeting," he told the Post. "I don't like that aggression. I don't want that aggression at all."

The question now is how Trump will react once he finds himself in a room with Putin.

After his success in Helsinki, Putin could be looking for his latest opportunity to make his case directly to Trump and to see if he can get the same result, said Fernando Cutz, a former senior adviser to then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

And it just might work, Cutz said, noting the extent to which Trump can be swayed in these settings, calling it Putin's "best chance" because Trump "does not like confrontation at all, especially in person."

"Even silence on that topic would be a huge win for Putin. Anything short of the President coming out and condemning his actions in Ukraine to his face in front of the press would be a big win for Putin," said Cutz, who is now a senior associate at the Cohen Group.

First presidential trip to Latin America

Trump's visit to Buenos Aires for the G20 marks the first time he has set foot in Latin America since becoming President, a milestone he was scheduled to breach in April until he canceled a planned trip to Peru and sent the vice president in his stead.

His first visit to the region comes as he has once again stoked anti-immigrant sentiment in the US, portraying the caravan of several thousand Latin American migrants headed to the US to seek asylum as a dangerous threat to the country. While Trump sought to move beyond his Islamophobic campaign rhetoric during his first visit to the Middle East last year, there is no indication he intends to step back from his caustic comments about undocumented immigrants from Latin America during his visit to Buenos Aires.

Trump also won't be sitting down for a bilateral meeting with any other Latin American leader during his trip beyond Argentina's Macri, a friendly figure Trump first met several decades ago over real estate negotiations in New York. Trump was scheduled to make a stop in Colombia during his trip but he scrapped plans for a visit to the important South American ally for the second time.

Latin American countries have rallied behind the Trump administration's position on the political crisis in Venezuela, to which the President and top Cabinet officials have demonstrated a dedicated focus. But Trump's caustic rhetoric on immigration has also divided the region, weakening public support there for the United States.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 589527

Reported Deaths: 7333
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1221311726
Ramsey51028871
Dakota45667448
Anoka41421437
Washington26724281
Stearns22139221
St. Louis17682302
Scott17201124
Wright15943139
Olmsted1319098
Sherburne1160286
Carver1044945
Clay812792
Rice8014106
Blue Earth746141
Crow Wing660988
Kandiyohi652083
Chisago592551
Otter Tail572978
Benton565997
Goodhue475772
Douglas464674
Mower464032
Winona452950
Itasca432254
McLeod421658
Isanti417364
Morrison417360
Nobles407248
Beltrami392458
Steele384915
Polk382468
Becker378850
Lyon359850
Carlton344153
Freeborn341129
Pine326722
Nicollet323843
Brown304640
Mille Lacs302452
Le Sueur289222
Todd280632
Cass269628
Meeker254340
Waseca236522
Martin229831
Roseau207919
Wabasha20483
Hubbard187141
Dodge18373
Renville178943
Redwood172936
Houston171515
Cottonwood164321
Fillmore155510
Wadena155122
Pennington153619
Chippewa151838
Faribault151319
Kanabec143424
Sibley142510
Aitkin134236
Watonwan13219
Rock128019
Jackson121711
Pipestone115126
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10956
Murray10609
Swift104918
Stevens90211
Marshall88017
Clearwater86416
Koochiching81715
Lake80819
Wilkin80712
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48793
Kittson48522
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3223
Cook1610

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366197

Reported Deaths: 5929
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57488623
Linn20814334
Scott19960240
Black Hawk15785308
Woodbury15121228
Johnson1445783
Dubuque13355209
Dallas1116198
Pottawattamie11091168
Story1059248
Warren575888
Clinton554393
Cerro Gordo538089
Sioux513874
Webster512193
Marshall482175
Muscatine477499
Des Moines454366
Wapello4297122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418672
Plymouth400680
Lee375055
Marion361775
Jones298157
Henry291137
Carroll285452
Bremer283960
Crawford265840
Boone263934
Benton256055
Washington253950
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229951
Jackson221242
Clay215325
Kossuth215264
Delaware209240
Tama209271
Winneshiek196934
Page192622
Buchanan190731
Cedar189423
Hardin184943
Fayette184841
Wright184336
Hamilton179449
Harrison179373
Clayton169256
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161519
Floyd160342
Cherokee158738
Lyon157741
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee151151
Iowa148324
Hancock147634
Winnebago141731
Calhoun138113
Cass137954
Grundy136233
Emmet134040
Jefferson132435
Shelby130737
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose128049
Louisa127849
Mitchell126042
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie121030
Franklin119321
Humboldt118826
Palo Alto112523
Howard104522
Montgomery103338
Clarke99924
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95631
Monroe95129
Ida90334
Adair86432
Pocahontas85322
Davis82824
Monona82830
Osceola78516
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7438
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55618
Ringgold55524
Wayne53723
Audubon50810
Adams3384
Rochester
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 57°
Mason City
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 55°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 57°
Charles City
Clear
° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: °
Gradual warm-up this week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events