Trump likely to meet with Xi when G20 gathers: White House

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo - RC11ACBFE610

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will likely meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit later this month in Japan, a White House spokesman said on Thursday, although he suggested a meeting was not yet firmly scheduled.

“It looks like we’re moving in that direction,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News Channel when asked if the two leaders would have a bilateral meeting.

Trump has repeatedly said he expects to meet Xi at the G20 gathering to talk about the trade dispute between the two nations.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Iran: U.S.-Russia ceasefire deal should be expanded to cover all Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries a weapon as he walks past damaged buildings in a rebel-held part of the southern city of Deraa, Syria July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir

LONDON (Reuters) – A partial ceasefire in southwestern Syria agreed between the United States and Russia should be expanded to all of Syria if it is to be successful, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The United States, Russia and Jordan announced a ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” for the southwest on Friday and starting on Sunday after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

“The agreement can be fruitful if it is expanded to all of Syria and includes all the area that we discussed in Astana talks for de-escalating the tension,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

In Astana peace talks, Russia, Turkey and Iran tried to finalize an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria but failed to reach an agreement.

Russia and Iran are the main international backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Washington supports some of the rebel groups fighting to topple him.

“Iran is seeking Syria’s sovereignty and security so a ceasefire cannot be limited to a certain location…No agreement would be successful without taking the realities on the ground into account,” Qasemi added.

Previous similar ceasefires have failed to hold for long and it was not clear how much the actual combatants — Assad’s government forces and the main Syrian rebel armies in the southwest — are committed to this latest effort.

Qasemi said Iran has been fully informed by the Russians on the ceasefire agreement but added that they see some “ambiguities in the deal mainly related to the American recent measures in Syria”.



(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


At G20 summit, Trump promises $639 million in food, humanitarian aid

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a working session at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Saturday, July 8, 2017.REUTERS/Markus Schreiber, Pool

HAMBURG (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday promised $639 million in funding for humanitarian programs, including $331 million to help feed starving people in four famine-hit countries – Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Trump’s pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, providing a “godsend” to the U.N. World Food Programme, the group’s executive director, David Beasley, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

“We’re facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two,” said Beasley, a Republican and former South Carolina governor who was nominated by Trump to head the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

He said the additional funding was about a third of what the agency estimated was required this year to deal with urgent food needs in the four countries facing famine and in other areas.

The WFP estimates that 109 million people around the world will need food assistance this year, up from 80 million last year, with 10 of the 13 worst affected zones stemming from wars and “man-made” crises, Beasley said.

“We estimated that if we didn’t receive the funding we needed immediately that 400,000 to 600,000 children would be dying in the next four months,” he said.

Trump’s announcement came after his administration proposed sharp cuts in funding for the U.S. State Department and other humanitarian missions as part of his “America First” policy.

Beasley said the agency had worked hard with the White House and the U.S. government to secure the funding, but Trump would insist that other countries contributed more as well.

A WPF spokesman said Germany recently pledged an additional 200 million euros for food relief.

The United States has long been the largest donor to the WFP.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by John Stonestreet)

G20 communique agreed apart from climate issue: EU officials

Delegates attend the official dinner at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kay Nietfeld

By Paul Carrel and Noah Barkin

HAMBURG (Reuters) – World leaders meeting for a summit in Germany have agreed every aspect of a joint statement apart from the section on climate where the United States is pushing for a reference to fossil fuels, European Union officials said on Saturday.

The officials said aides had worked until 2 a.m. to finalize a communique for the Group of 20, overcoming differences on trade after U.S. officials agreed to language on fighting protectionism.

“The outcome is good. We have a communique. There is one issue left, which is on climate, but I am hopeful we can find a compromise,” said one EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have all the fundamentals.

“We have a G20 communique, not a G19 communique,” he added.

The section that needs to be resolved by the leaders relates to the U.S. insistence that there be a reference to fossil fuels, the official said.

With the final statement almost nailed down, the summit marked a diplomatic success for Chancellor Angela Merkel as she finessed differences with U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrived at the two-day summit isolated on a host of issues.

Trump, who on Friday found chemistry in his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulated Merkel for her stewardship of the summit.

“You have been amazing and you have done a fantastic job. Thank you very much chancellor,” he said.

Trump and Putin on Friday discussed alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election but agreed to focus on future ties rather than dwell on the past, a result that was sharply criticized by leading Democrats in Congress.

For Merkel, the summit is an opportunity to show off her diplomatic skills ahead of a federal election in September, when she is seeking a fourth term in office.

She treated the leaders to a concert at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on Friday night, where they listened to Beethoven while their aides began their all night slog to work out a consensus on trade that had eluded the leaders.

Trade policy has become more contentious since Trump entered the White House promising an “America First” approach.

The trade section in the statement the aides thrashed out read: “We will keep markets open noting the importance of reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment frameworks and the principle of non-discrimination, and continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognize the role of legitimate trade defense instruments in this regard.”


Climate change policy proved a sticking point, with the United States pressing for inclusion of wording about which other countries had reservations.

That passage read: “… the United States of America will endeavor to work closely with other partners to help their access to and use of fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently …”

The climate section took note of Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord aimed at combating climate change, and reaffirmed the commitment of the other 19 members to the agreement.

Merkel chose to host the summit in Hamburg, the port city where she was born, to send a signal about Germany’s openness to the world, including its tolerance of peaceful protests.

As the leaders met on Saturday, police helicopters hovered overhead. Overnight, police clashed with anti-capitalist protesters seeking to disrupt the summit.

In the early morning, heavily armed police commandos moved in after activists had spent much of Friday attempting to wrest control of the streets from more than 15,000 police, setting fires, looting and building barricades.

The summit is being held only a few hundred meters from one of Germany’s most potent symbols of left-wing resistance, a former theater called the “Rote Flora” which was taken over by anti-capitalist squatters nearly three decades ago.

Police said 200 officers had been injured, 134 protesters temporarily detained and another 100 taken into custody.

(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Noah Barkin and Janet Lawrence)

Hamburg police fear further violence on final day of G20 summit

German riot police officers walk in front of protesters during demonstrations at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

By Joseph Nasr

HAMBURG (Reuters) – German police braced for a third day of violent clashes with anti-capitalist protesters bent on disrupting the G20 summit of global leaders in Hamburg port, after radicals torched cars, smashed shops and injured officers overnight.

While around 100,000 protestors have staged peaceful marches since Thursday, a hard core of the Black Bloc militants from across Europe have looted stores, set fire to street barricades and hurled bottles and paving slabs.

The head of Hamburg police said he was shocked by the “wave of destructive anger”, riots and arson committed by demonstrators since Thursday.

“We have clear indications it is highly likely that these violent perpetrators will mix in with today’s demonstration ‘G20 – not welcome!’ said Ralf Martin Meyer. “It is to be expected that again, no peaceful protest will be possible.”

The anti-globalisation Attac movement plans a demonstration of up to 100,000 people on the final day of the summit. Police said some 21,000 people had already gathered.

“Today we will bring our criticism of the G20 and our alternatives for fair global policies onto the streets,” said Attac’s Thomas Eberhardt-Koester.

“We want to respond to the police violence and senseless destruction of last night,” he added.

In the last three days, more than 200 police officers have been injured. Some 143 people have been arrested and 122 taken into custody. The number of injured protestors was not available. On Friday night, special armed police had been deployed with sub-machine guns.

World leaders and officials are putting the final touches to a joint statement on issues ranging from trade to climate change on Saturday, the final day of the summit.

Merkel had wanted to show her commitment to free speech by hosting G20 leaders in Hamburg, a port city with a strong radical tradition, but images of burning cars and shops and streets awash with debris have raised questions about that strategy.

Hamburg residents inspected the destruction on Saturday and said they were angry the summit was taking place there.

“Merkel underestimated the protests. The least she can do now is come visit (the district of) Sternschanze and see the damage for herself,” said Kai Mertens, a 50-year-old programmer.

“We are a very liberal district. But what they did here has nothing to do with the G20 or opposition to politics. They were hooligans and many were foreigners,” added Mertens.

Police from across Germany have been brought to Hamburg to reinforce the local force. A 27-year old German suspected of attempted murder after pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter was due to face a judge on Saturday, said police.

(Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jon Boyle)

U.S. bombers challenge China in South China Sea flyover

FILE PHOTO - A B-1B Lancer from the U.S. Air Force 28th Air Expeditionary Wing heads out on a combat mission in support of strikes on Afghanistan in this file picture released December 7, 2001. Cedric H.Rudisill/USAF/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Two U.S bombers have flown over the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday, asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China’s claim to virtually all of the waterway.

The flight by the B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam on Thursday came as U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare for a meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Germany.

The two leaders were expected to discuss what China can do to rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon programs.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday that some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

While Trump has been seeking China’s help to press North Korea, the U.S. military has, nevertheless, been asserting its “freedom of navigation” rights in the South China Sea, at the risk of angering China.

Asked about the flight by the two U.S. bombers, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said there was no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight for the East and South China Seas.

“But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China’s sovereignty and security,” he said.

China’s Defence Ministry, in a short statement sent to Reuters, said China always maintained its vigilance and “effectively monitors relevant countries’ military activities next to China”.

“The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” it added, without elaborating.

The United States has criticized China’s build-up of military facilities on South China Sea reefs and tiny islands it has constructed, concerned that they could be used to extend its strategic reach.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year.

The two Lancers that made the flight had earlier trained with Japanese jet fighters in the neighboring East China Sea, the first time the two forces had conducted joint night-time drills.

Two U.S. Lancers flew from Guam over the South China Sea last month, while a U.S. warship carried out a maneuvering drill within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands in the waterway in late May.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly in TOKYO; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)

Leftist protesters vow to disrupt G20 summit in Hamburg

An activist carries a poster as he arrives at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof central railway station during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

By Joseph Nasr

HAMBURG (Reuters) – “Welcome to Hell”. That’s the greeting for U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders from anti-capitalist protesters in Hamburg, who have vowed to disrupt the G20 summit in the German port city.

Among the 100,000 protesters expected in the city, some 8,000 are deemed by security forces to be ready to commit violence, posing a challenge for those tasked with securing the July 7-8 summit of leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies.

There has been no significant violence at several smaller demonstrations in the city this week, including a march on Wednesday by more than 7,000 beer-drinking mainly young revelers holding placards denouncing capitalism and G20 leaders.

But a fire overnight at a Porsche car dealer in the north of the city that damaged eight vehicles could be a foretaste of what’s to come. Police said they were investigating whether it was an arson attack.

“There is no concrete evidence to link the incident to the G20 summit,” a police spokesman told Reuters. “But we assume this is the case.”

Locals are unhappy with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to hold the summit in the center of Germany’s second-largest city as they fear property damage by violent protesters. Their daily routines are also being disrupted by security measures.

Up to 20,000 police officers will be on duty to watch over the main demonstration, dubbed “Welcome to Hell” by the alliance of anti-capitalist groups who organized it. Protesters have said they will try to block roads in the city.

Merkel took a big gamble in deciding to host the summit, where leaders will hold talks on difficult issues from trade and climate change to African development, in the city of her birth.

Should the protests go awry, her reputation could be damaged less than three months before an election in which she is seeking a fourth term.

To air the locals’ disenchantment, Hamburg-based soft drinks maker Fritz Kola has launched a poster advertising campaign featuring a portrait of Trump snoozing. A caption reads: “Wake up, man! Fritz Kola. Lots of caffeine”.

Protesters say the G20 has failed to solve many of the issues threatening world peace, including climate change, rising inequality and violent conflicts.

Activists arrive at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof central railway station during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Activists arrive at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof central railway station during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch


Tens of thousands will gather at the fish market in the borough of St Pauli – known for its red light district – at 1400 GMT (10 a.m. ET), around the same time as Air Force One is due to land in Hamburg. They will then march north to the heavily secured summit venue.

“It’s ridiculous that police say some of us are violent when starting tomorrow the leaders of the world’s largest weapon exporting and importing nations will be arriving in our city,” said Stefan Hubert, a 32-year-old graphic designer who came to the protest on Wednesday with three friends.

Holding a placard reading ‘Make love great again!’ he added: “This summit is a waste of money that could be better spent on deploying more boats to stop migrants fleeing war and hunger from drowning in the Mediterranean.”

Turkish-German protester Fatima Cicek said she and her two sisters came to the demonstration on Wednesday to make the point that the G20 is undemocratic as it is a forum where a handful of leaders make decisions that could impact the whole world.

But her main issue is with Trump.

“He is the most disruptive and egotistic leader at the summit,” the veiled 38-year-old social worker said.

There is an irony in the protesters’ dislike of Trump. The U.S. president and anti-capitalist activists have something in common: distrust of globalization.

Yet Trump is in Hamburg to push for trade rules that benefit America, including steel makers facing tough competition from China, while the protesters are here to demand more rights for the poor regardless of where they live.

“Trump is here to promote his own interests and those of the richest people in America,” said Cicek. “We are demanding more rights for the millions of people in Africa who have no roof over their heads.”

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Germany urges Erdogan not to address Turks during G20 Hamburg visit

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reviews a guard of honour during the launch of a new Turkish Navy ship in Tuzla, near Istanbul, Turkey, July 3, 2017.

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to respect its request that he not address Turks living in Germany when he attends this week’s Hamburg summit of the world’s 20 largest economies.

Ties between Berlin and Ankara have soured over the past year due to disagreements on a range of political and security issues, including Turkey’s jailing of a German-Turkish journalist and its refusal to let German lawmakers visit German troops at a Turkish air base.

Erdogan was also infuriated by what he called “Nazi era tactics” when some local German authorities, citing security concerns, barred Turkish politicians from campaigning in Germany ahead of a referendum on expanding the president’s powers.

Last week Germany rejected a request from Ankara that Erdogan be allowed to address members of the 3 million-strong ethnic Turkish community living in Germany during the G20 summit.

In unusually strong language that underlined the poor state of relations, a German foreign ministry spokesman said even appearances by Erdogan at a Turkish consulate or via a video feed would “would be an affront to the clearly expressed will of the government and a violation of German sovereignty”.

“Appearances of this nature have to be requested well in advance,” Martin Schaefer told a news conference when asked about “rumors” that Erdogan might still address Germany’s Turks despite Berlin’s request.

He said Germany could not ban Erdogan from speaking at a Turkish consulate, but had options for influencing such actions.

Last week German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he did not want to see Turkish domestic conflicts played out among the Turkish community in Germany – a reference to deep political divisions within Turkey.


(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones)


Details of first Putin-Trump meeting not yet settled: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on January 17, 2017 and U.S. President Donald Trump seen at a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20, 2017, as seen in this combination photo.

By Denis Dyomkin and Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia and the United States are still discussing the timing of the first face-to-face encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, expected to take place at a G20 summit in Germany later this week, a Kremlin aide said on Monday.

Since Trump was elected U.S. president, Russian has been keenly anticipating his first meeting with Putin, hoping it would trigger a reset in U.S.-Russia relations that plunged to post-Cold War lows under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

But with Trump embroiled in a row at home over his associates’ links to Moscow, the encounter with Putin has become a minefield. Too warm a meeting would allow Trump’s domestic opponents to accuse him of being a Kremlin stooge.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters the Trump-Putin meeting would happen on the sidelines of the G20 summit, in Hamburg, but it was not yet finalised how it would fit into the summit’s schedule.

“We will be looking for certain breaks, windows to hold this, the most important, meeting,” Ushakov said.

“We have a lot of issues, which should be discussed at the highest level … That’s why this meeting, this first personal contact, is so important.”

Asked about the agenda for the meeting, Ushakov said: “I’ve heard the Americans want to raise the issues of terrorism and Syria. It seems to me that would be pretty reasonable.”

Ushakov said that ties between Russia and the United States were at “zero level.”

The Kremlin aide urged the United States “to save us from the need to retaliate” against Washington for expelling Russian diplomats and seizing two Russian diplomatic compounds on U.S. soil, one in Maryland and the other on Long Island.

Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of the 35 Russians in late December last year, seized the compounds, and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over what he said was their involvement in hacking political groups in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

Russian has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin said at the time he would not retaliate immediately, in the expectation that relations would improve under Trump.

With no thaw materializing yet, Russian officials have said this month that they may now have to take “symmetrical” steps in retaliation.


(Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin/Christian Lowe/Andrew Osborn)


Kremlin says Putin-Trump meeting possible before July

A billboard showing a pictures of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen through pedestrians in Danilovgrad, Montenegro,

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday there was talk of a possible meeting between President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump taking place before a G20 summit in July, but there was nothing specific to report so far.

The two men have never met, but both have said they want to try to mend battered U.S.-Russia ties, which fell to their lowest level since the Cold War after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

The new U.S. administration is under pressure over Russia however because Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, is struggling to get past a controversy over a call he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak before Trump took office.

Top White House officials have been reviewing over the weekend Flynn’s contacts and whether he discussed the possibility of lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia once Trump took office, which could potentially be in violation of a law banning private citizens from engaging in foreign policy.

When asked about it on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed lifting sanctions on Moscow.

“Obviously every ambassador informs the center (Moscow) about all the contacts he has so the information gets to us, but we are not willing to comment on internal discussions being held in Washington,” Peskov said.

Asked if there had been talks between any Russian and U.S. representatives on easing sanctions, Peskov said: “We have already said there have not been any (such talks)”.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn)