US President Trump reiterates call for Russia to rejoin ‘G8’

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump noted that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had wanted Russia out of what used to be the G8 “because Putin outsmarted him”.

“But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Trump said, just days before a G7 summit — minus Russia — in Biarritz, France.

Trump added, “I could certainly see it being the G8 again. If someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favourably…. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Russia pushed out after Crimea

Russia was pushed out of the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

It was not the first time Trump has floated the idea of Russia getting back together with the G7, which groups the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.

In June 2018, Trump suggested Russia should attend a forthcoming G7 summit in Canada. A Kremlin spokesman seemed to reject the idea, saying Russia was focused on other formats.

Two days later, President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not choose the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow.

Trump has periodically called for closer ties with Russia, although his administration’s policy has included strong sanctions against Moscow.

He is due to host the next G7 meeting in the United States next year.

[France24]

Trump Slams U.S. Military Exercises, Helps Kim Jong Un Blame America for Missile Launches

President Donald Trump released some details of the “beautiful letter” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sent him recently, which apparently included a “small apology” for the recent missile tests, which Kim blamed on the U.S. military exercises that Trump called “ridiculous and expensive.”

During an impromptu press gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Trump told reporters that he “got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un yesterday,” and while he gushed about the beauty and three-page (“right from top to bottom”) length of the letter, Trump would not reveal its beautiful contents.

But on Saturday morning, Trump did reveal some of Kim’s letter, writing that the dictator mostly complained about our country’s military exercises, and promised to end missile tests once those exercises stop. Trump called the exercises “expensive and ridiculous.”

Since Trump announced receipt of that beautiful letter, North Koreas has reportedly conducted another missile launch, its fifth in recent weeks. Trump has been a consistent critic of the U.S. military’s joint military exercises with South Korea, which Trump and the North Koreans call “war games.”

Watch Trump describe the beautiful three full page, right from top to bottom, feat of correspondence above, via CBS.

[Mediaite]

After ‘beautiful letter’and more N.K. launches, Trump says he’ll meet with Kim again

President Donald Trump on Friday praised a “beautiful letter” from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

Hours later, the regime launched further projectiles as a warning against joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

On Saturday, Trump slammed the “ridiculous and expensive” joint exercises in a tweet, indicating he’ll meet with Kim “in the not too distant future.” 

Trump wrote Saturday: “In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong Un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over. It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises. It was….. …also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future! A nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!”

“I think we’ll have another meeting,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Friday. “He really wrote a beautiful three-page — I mean right from top to bottom — a really beautiful letter. And maybe I’ll release the results of the letter, but it was very positive.” 

North Korea had five rounds of weapons demonstrations in the past two weeks — including another launch of two projectiles Saturday local time, according to South Korea. 

Trump had dismissed the previous tests, saying they were just for short-range missiles. He added that Kim wrote in the “very personal letter” that he is not happy with the U.S.-South Korea joint exercises. 

“He wasn’t happy with the tests, the war games. The war games on the other side with the United States. And as you know, I’ve never liked it either,” Trump said. “I don’t like paying for it. We should be reimbursed for it, and I’ve told that to South Korea.” 

The missiles North Korea previously tested are able to strike U.S. allies South Korea and Japan as well as U.S. military bases there. But the president said on Friday that Kim sees a “great future” for North Korea, “so we’ll see how it all works out.” 

He pivoted to say the U.S. has routinely been taken advantage of by foreign countries, including its allies “in many cases more than anybody else.” Earlier, he told reporters he hopes South Korea and Japan — which have been locked in an economic feud even during North Korea’s weapons demonstrations — would “start getting along.” 

“You know, they are supposed to be allies. And it puts us in a very difficult position. South Korea and Japan are fighting all the time,” Trump said.

[Politico]

Trump praises North Korean dictator’s ‘great and beautiful’ vision for his country

Donald Trump has heaped fresh affection on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un– praising his “great and beautiful” vision for the country.

Earlier this week, the US president played down the significance of a series of short-range missile tests carried out by Pyongyang, saying they were “very standard” and would not impact his ongoing diplomatic engagement with Mr Kim.

Speaking to reporters before he left the White House for a rally in Ohio, Mr Trump was asked about the missile tests, the latest of which was fired from North Korea’s South Hamgyong province.

“I think it’s very much under control, very much under control,” he said, saying the tests were of short-range missiles. “We never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles. They are very standard.”

Mr Trump, who in June made history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit North Korea when he met Mr Kim at the demilitarised zone between the two countries on the Korean peninsula and stepped into the north, on Friday repeated his claim the missile tests were not a problem.

“Kim Jong-un and North Korea tested 3 short range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands,” he said on Twitter. 

He added: “I may be wrong, but I believe that chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as president, can make that vision come true.

“He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, president Trump!”

Mr Trump’s outreach to the North Korean dictator, accused of overseeing widespread human rights abuses, has divided opinion. 

Some have accused the president of giving legitimacy to the North Korean regime, while securing little in return. 

Others, including some of those who frequently criticised the president, have praised his outreach, and said it is better the nuclear-armed nations are talking to each other, after decades of hostility and mutual suspicion.

[The Independent]

US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile

The United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia Friday, as the US military prepares to test a new non-nuclear mobile-launched cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Moscow in Europe, according to a senior US defense official.

The US withdrawal puts an end to a landmark arms control pact that has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and is sparking fears of a new arms race.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday announcing the US’ formal withdrawal from the Cold-War era nuclear treaty.

Pompeo said, “Russia failed to return to full and verified compliance through the destruction of its noncompliant missile system.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN’s Hala Gorani that the treaty’s end is a “serious setback.”

‘A bad day’

“The fact that we don’t have the INF Treaty anymore, the fact that the Russians over the years have deployed new missiles, which can reach European cities within minutes, which are hard to detect, are mobile and are nuclear capable, and therefore reduce the threshold of any potential use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict — of course that’s a bad day for all of us who believe in arms control and stability in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.”At the same time, NATO is there to protect all our allies and we will take the necessary measures to retain credible defense,” he added.The new US missile test, which CNN reported Thursday, is expected to take place in the next few weeks and will essentially be the Trump administration’s answer to Russia’s years-long non-compliance with the INF treaty, the senior US defense official said.A senior administration official told reporters that the US will be testing the cruise missiles that were forbidden by the INF treaty because “Russia cannot maintain military advantage,” but claimed that it will take years for the US to deploy those weapons.

Deployment

“We are literally years away before we would be at a point where we would talk about basing of any particular capability. Because of our steadfast adherence to the treaty over 32 years, we are barely, after almost a year, at a point where we are contemplating initial flight tests,” explained the senior administration official, noting that the US would only look at deploying conventional weapons, not nuclear weapons.

But the Pentagon said in March that this ground launched missile could be ready for deployment within 18 months. The administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2020, released in February, included $96 million for continued research and development on INF range missile systems.

And arms control experts say it’s not difficult to convert existing air- or sea-based systems into the ground-based missile the Pentagon plans to test. “It is not a significant engineering task,” said Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group and a former nuclear expert for the National Security Council under the Obama administration. “It’s well within the capability of major defense contractors and the army to pull off.”

The end of the INF pact leaves the US and Russia with just one nuclear arms agreement, the New START Treaty, which governs strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems for each side. If New START isn’t renewed or extended by 2021, the world’s two largest nuclear powers would have no limits on their arsenals for the first time in decades.

President Donald Trump’s ambivalent comments about New START and national security advisor John Bolton’s well-known dislike for arms control treaties have given rise to deep concern about a new nuclear arms race.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday that the INF Treaty’s expiry means “the world will lose an invaluable brake on nuclear war. This will likely heighten, not reduce, the threat posed by ballistic missiles.”

He urged the US and Russia to “urgently seek agreement on a new common path for international arms control.”

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme allied commander, said on CNN “New Day” that the termination of the treaty also marks “one more ratchet up on the movement towards a more adversarial relationship with Russia.”

But he added that the US “really didn’t have a choice” because the treaty wasn’t effective.

‘A competition with nuclear arms’

“We’re going into a new competition, a military competition, including a competition with nuclear arms against development that Russia, and to some extent, China are making,” Clark said. “No one wants to do this. It’s expensive, it’s dangerous, but it’s necessary if we’re going to maintain our security in an uncertain world.”The Trump administration casts the forthcoming test of the new ground-based missiles as necessary to US national security, even as it seeks to tamp down any suggestion that the US is triggering an arms race, a claim that’s met with skepticism in the arms control community.When asked if the US will commit to maintaining some kind of arms control despite this treaty being defunct, the official largely put the onus on Russia.”I can’t speak for the Russian federation so I can’t promise that they will be amenable to additional arms control,” the official said. “I can only tell you that the US, from the President on down, is interested in finding an effective arms control solution.”On Friday, Russia said it is inviting the US and NATO to join them in declaring a moratorium on deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

‘Not credible’

“We invited the US and other NATO countries to assess the possibility of declaring the same moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range equipment as we have, the same moratorium Vladimir Putin declared, saying that Russia will refrain from deploying these systems when we acquire them unless the American equipment is deployed in certain regions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, Russian state news agency TASS reported.Stoltenberg on Friday dismissed Russia’s offer of a moratorium as “not credible,” because Russia has been deploying missiles for years.”There is zero credibility in offering a moratorium on missiles they are already deploying,” he said. “There are no new US missiles, no new NATO missiles in Europe but there are more and more Russian missiles,” Stoltenberg said in a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.International allies, including the United Kingdom, emphasized their support for the US’ move to withdraw from the INF treaty.NATO allies said in a statement that Russia remains in violation of the INF Treaty, “despite years of U.S. and Allied engagement,” adding that they fully support the US’ decision.

NATO added that over the past six months Russia had a “final opportunity” to honor the treaty but failed.UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Russia caused the INF Treaty collapse, tweeting, “Their contempt for the rules based international system threatens European security.”The senior US defense official said that the US has long had evidence that Russia has developed, tested and fielded “multiple battalions” of non-INF compliant cruise and ballistic missiles. The US believes the deployments are “militarily significant” because the missiles are mobile, allowing Moscow to move them rapidly and making it difficult for the US to track them.The Russian missiles use solid fuel, which also means they can be readied in a very short time frame to be fired at targets, especially in western Europe.Alexandra Bell, senior policy director at the non-partisan Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, explains that “with this type of missile there’s very short warning, attacks are harder to spot by radar, so it’s just more destabilizing. They made the situation in Europe more dangerous.”

Russian targets

The Pentagon has been working on the new missile system’s very initial phases, which will lead to the first test in the coming weeks, the defense official said. The official emphasized there is no formal program yet to develop the missile, because the INF treaty has been in effect.The US also has yet to formally discuss and commit to firm basing options, the defense official said. The concept, the official said, would be to position the missiles in militarily advantageous positions from which they could fire past Russian defenses and target ports, military bases or critical infrastructure.But no NATO member “has said it would be willing to host new US intermediate range missiles,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.Indeed, several NATO members, including Poland, have made clear that any deployment of the missiles in Europe would have to be approved by all NATO members. Stoltenberg has emphasized that NATO will respond to the end of the INF Treaty as an alliance and would not be amenable to US missile deployments on its border.”What we will do will be measured, it will be coordinated as a NATO family, no bilateral arrangements, but NATO as an alliance,” Stoltenberg said last month. “We will not mirror what Russia is doing, meaning that we will not deploy missiles,” the NATO chief said.

[CNN]

Trump Offered Putin U.S. Help Fighting Wildfires, Kremlin Says

Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to offer U.S. help fighting Siberian wildfires, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin thanked Trump for the offer but said a group of airplanes had been formed in Siberia to fight the fires, according to a translation of the statement. Putin said that Trump’s call was a signal that “in the future, it will be possible to restore full-format relations between the two countries.”

The White House later confirmed the call and said that the two leaders also discussed trade.

Relations between the U.S. and Russia deteriorated after American intelligence agencies determined that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. The U.S. issued sanctions against Russia both for the election interference and the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in the U.K. that the British government blamed on the Kremlin.

Trump has nonetheless tried to maintain a personal friendship with Putin. The two leaders agreed to continue discussions by phone and in meetings, the Kremlin statement said.

Putin ordered the Russian military to help fight the Siberian fires earlier on Wednesday. Russia has declared a state of emergency in four Siberian districts because of the fires. Plumes of smoke visible from space have stretched across the region to the Ural mountains thousands of miles away.

June temperatures in the Siberian districts were about 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) above the 30-year average from 1981 to 2010. About 3 million hectares were burning as of Wednesday, according to the country’s Federal Forestry Agency.

Wildfires in the U.S. haven’t always drawn sympathy from the American president.

Trump sparked outrage last year as wildfires devastated parts of California by insisting that poor forest management by the state’s Democratic leaders was to blame. He threatened to withhold federal money for maintaining the forests even as the fires raged through Butte County north of Sacramento, effectively destroying the town of Paradise and killing dozens of people.

After a backlash, Trump softened his tone and approved an expedited request for disaster aid.

Nevertheless, Trump has proposed cutting the U.S. Forest Service’s funding for the national forest system by as much as 19%. Some of the programs designed to reduce wildfire risk, including restoring forest landscapes and the Integrated Resource Restoration Pilot, would be eliminated altogether.

[Bloomberg]


Trump enters North Korea, announces nuclear talks will resume

President Trump made history on Sunday by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to cross into North Korea, a symbolic gesture toward Kim Jong Un during a meeting at the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in which the two leaders agreed to restart stalled nuclear talks.

Trump and Kim afterward spoke privately for more than 50 minutes, turning what was supposed to be a brief exchange of pleasantries into a negotiating session in which Trump said they both agreed to “designate a team” and “work out some details” in his on-again, off-again effort to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

“Speed is not the object. We want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump told reporters. “This was a great day. This was a very legendary, very historic day.”

“It’ll be even more historic if something comes up, something very important,” the president added.

Trump’s meeting with Kim was his first since nuclear talks broke down at a February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Major doubts still surround the negotiations and Kim’s willingness to surrender his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

But Trump was determined to show the public he can secure a nuclear deal with North Korea, which would be his biggest achievement on the world stage.

It came days after he agreed at the Group of 20 summit to reopen trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, pressing to secure another elusive deal and show voters he can be the dealmaker in chief ahead of his 2020 reelection race.

The history-making moment came at 3:45 p.m. Korea time, when Trump and Kim shook hands across a concrete slab that forms the line separating the North and South. At Kim’s request, Trump stepped over the line, and the two men walked back toward a plaza in the North, where they posed for photos.

“Good to see you again,” Kim said to Trump, according to a translator. “I never expected to see you in this place.”

“Good progress. Good progress,” Trump said as he and Kim crossed back into South Korea.

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” Trump said, adding that he would invite Kim to visit the White House.

The image-conscious Trump framed the gesture as a rebuttal to critics who say he will not be able to secure a deal with Kim.

“You don’t report it accurately, but that’s OK. Some day, history will record it accurately,” he said.

Trump and Kim met at the Freedom House on the South Korean side of the DMZ, where the North Korean leader said he was “willing to put an end to the unfortunate past.”

Kim said he was “surprised” when Trump made the invitation by tweet on Saturday but hailed the importance of the meeting as a sign of the “excellent relations between the two of us.”

“You hear the power of that voice” Trump said, adding that the North Korean leader “doesn’t do news conferences.”

“This is a historic moment, the fact that we’re meeting,” he added.

Trump later told U.S. troops at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, that he noticed that “many people … from Korea were literally in tears” when he crossed the DMZ but did not cite specific examples.

He also said during brief remarks to reporters that sanctions against Pyongyang remain in place but that “at some point during the negotiations things can happen.”

In a tweet before leaving South Korea, Trump described his meeting with Kim as “wonderful,” adding that standing on North Korean soil was “an important statement for all.”

Despite the historic nature of Trump’s visit to the Korean Peninsula, the outcome essentially got the U.S. and North Korea back to the same place they were before talks broke down four months ago.

The Hanoi summit collapsed when Trump refused to accept Kim’s offer of sanctions relief in exchange for shuttering the North’s largest nuclear facility. Washington is looking for far greater concessions from Pyongyang, including a full accounting of their nuclear stockpile, comprehensive inspections and eventually the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Before and during his trip to Asia, Trump had repeatedly hinted about the possibility of meeting with Kim.

The two leaders recently resumed contact. Trump said he received what he called a “beautiful letter” from Kim this month containing birthday greetings. In return, the president sent Kim a thank-you note and letter.

Trump first publicly suggested the possibility of a brief greeting with Kim at the DMZ in a tweet Friday.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill on Monday, Trump said he would be visiting the DMZ and that he “might” meet with Kim. The Hill delayed publishing news of the trip earlier in the week at the request of the White House, which cited security concerns about publicizing the president’s plans that far in advance.

Trump said Saturday that the North Korean leader was open to a meeting, but the president noted potential logistical challenges could prevent it from taking place.

Sunday’s meeting with Kim came after bad weather blocked Trump’s attempt to make a surprise visit to the DMZ in November 2017.

Trump considered meeting Kim there in 2018 before deciding to hold the first summit between the two leaders in Singapore.

[The Hill]

Trump defends Putin’s claim that democracy is dead with bizarre, confused rant about California

Ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times that “the liberal idea has become obsolete,” a line that drew sharp rebuke from the democratic world.

But when President Donald Trump was asked about the line by Peter Baker of The New York Times, he didn’t even appear to understand what Putin was talking about, responding with a confused rant about how terrible California is.

Los Angeles and San Francisco, Trump said, are “sad to look at” because they are run by “liberal people”:

Putin, of course, was not talking about “liberal” in the sense of California or the Democratic Party. He was talking about the whole concept of Western, pluralistic, multicultural democracy, and arguing that giving marginalized groups like refugees and LGBTQ persons human rights is dying off.

Even if Trump had understood Putin, it is not clear he wouldn’t agree, given that his administration is rolling back LGBTQ protections, holding asylum seekers in camps with no soap and toothpaste, and broadly pushing to remove federal protections for the democratic process.

[Raw Story]

Trump praises Saudi crown prince, ignores questions on Khashoggi killing

President Donald Trump enjoyed breakfast here Friday with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, heaping praise on the Saudi ruler while ignoring evidence of his role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The crown prince had faced some isolation at last year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires after being implicated in the grisly murder of the Washington Post columnist and legal resident of the U.S., who disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

But Trump has largely ignored the evidence, including a conclusion by the Central Intelligence Agency, that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing.

At a news conference on Saturday, Trump said he did raise the killing privately with the crown prince, who told him about 13 people who had been prosecuted for the crime.

“He’s very angry about it,” he said. “He’s very unhappy about it.”

But Trump did not indicate that he confronted the crown prince over his own complicity. And when pressed about the CIA’s conclusion at the news conference, Trump responded, “I can’t comment on the intelligence community. I guess I’m allowed to declassify … but the truth is I don’t want to talk about intelligence.”

It wasn’t the first time Trump has declined to confirm or deny the CIA’s assessment, which has been shared with U.S. lawmakers and administration officials.

“I’m extremely angry and unhappy about a thing like that taking place,” Trump said. “But as of this moment, more than 13 people are being prosecuted, and I hear the numbers are going to be going up.”

Earlier, before their breakfast at the Imperial Hotel in Osaka, Trump and Prince Mohammed ignored at least two questions about Khashoggi’s death.

“Mr. President, will you discuss Jamal Khashoggi?”

Trump instead answered a question about his plans to visit the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

“Mr. President, will [you] address the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, sir, with the crown prince?”

Trump instead answered a question about his plans to discuss the technology company Huawei with President Xi Jinping of China, saying it would be part of their talks on trade.

Trump also did not raise the issue of Khashoggi’s murder in his opening remarks.

United Nations report last week found there was “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into allegations the crown prince masterminded the killing. “No conclusion is made as to guilt,” the report stated, adding, however: “Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances.”

In his remarks, Trump proclaimed his admiration for the crown prince, declaring that it was an honor to be in his company.

“It’s an honor to be with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine, a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “And I think especially what you’ve done for women. I’m seeing what’s happening; it’s like a revolution in a very positive way.”

Trump continued, “I want to just thank you on behalf of a lot of people, and I want to congratulate you. You’ve done, really, a spectacular job.”

Saudi Arabia will host next year’s G20 summit, which gave Prince Mohammed a prominent place at the front and center of this year’s “family photo” of leaders on Thursday.

Trump posed alongside Prince Mohammed, who greeted him with a warm smile, a robust handshake and a pat on the hand. Trump and the prince spoke together during the photo shoot, gesturing actively, and the two men continued to talk as they walked off the platform together.

At the Imperial Hotel, before breakfast, Trump insisted that it was his good relationships that were keeping the United States safe and free from conflicts.

“We have a very good friendship,” Trump said of China. “We have a very, very good friendship, like I have with Mohammed. I mean, we have a great — a great relationship, and that’s very important, especially when you have a place like — whether it’s Saudi Arabia, in all fairness, or China, or any country. Or any country. Or North Korea. It’s about relationship. Otherwise, you end up in very bad wars and lots of problems. The relationship is very important.”

[Politico]

Trump pressures other G-20 leaders to weaken climate goals

President Donald Trump is pressuring some of his fellow leaders to help weaken a G-20 commitment on fighting climate change in a move that could kill chances of agreeing on a final leaders’ declaration.

Three senior officials told POLITICO that Trump is trying to enlist the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia and Turkey in opposing commitments to stand by the Paris climate agreement made at previous G-20 summits.

The U.S. has refused to back the part of the G-20 declaration that supports the Paris accord since the G-20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, but supported the final communique under an ‘agree to disagree’ arrangement.

But this year, Trump is pushing allies to join him in opposition and French President Emmanuel Macron warned he would rather veto a final communiqué rather than allow the climate change section to be weakened further. Officials said negotiations would go on through the night and would likely be left for the leaders themselves to continue on Saturday.

The failure to secure agreement on a final communiqué would be a stinging defeat for the summit host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who has sought to maintain consensus and a spirit of multilateralism.

“The President has spoken with many of those leaders that could be part of those that are lowering the ambition of the language on climate,” a senior Elysée official said. “He spoke with Turkish President Erdoğan, with Brazilian President Bolsonaro, to say that it was absolutely imperative to maintain the format 19+1 … and that no backtracking on the Paris agreement was imaginable.”

For the EU leaders including Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the communiqué must read that the Paris agreement is “irreversible” and that the G-20 countries “fully commit” to implementing it, officials explained.

Backtracking on that specific language would raise the question of whether a final communiqué was even worth it, an official said.

[Politico]

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