Summing up the Summit
Last week the President left for what was perhaps the most consequential trip of his Presidency. The 2019 G20 Summit was the fourteenth meeting of what is supposedly 20 key economies (the EU counting as one). This year the event was held in Osaka Japan on the 28th and 29th of June. The topics ranged from the global economy to the environment.
Nineteen of the G20 members pledged their commitment to the “full implementation” of the Paris Agreement. The US was the only member not included. Maybe the nineteen others will now be able to catch up to the US.
At first glance the President seemed to be flaunting his prerogative. First he had a friendly meeting with the Saudi prince, Prince Mohammed, praising him for opening up Saudi Arabia. Later the President said he asked the Crown Prince abut the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, one of the Prince's harshest critics. The President said “He’s very angry about it,” he said. “He’s very unhappy about it.” That put the US media in an ugly mood to start with, then came another meeting with Putin. As usual a reporter asked the President to openly call out the Russian leader for election meddling. The President evidently felt that if they could troll him, he could troll them. “Yes, of course I will,” he said, turning to Putin. “Don’t meddle in the election, President.” Then to rub a little salt in their wounds the President said to Putin “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”. ......Putin then said (in English) "We also have"!
I am sure that sensitive issues such as Iran and Venezuela were discussed but there was that initial moment of Trump vs the media.
The more daunting agenda came with China. The President and Xi Jinping were able to agree to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks.
"The US says China agreed to "purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries".
Both sides also pledged to "immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft", the White House says.
President Trump said earlier this year he wanted to stop the "unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China".
According to the US, China has also signalled it will allow a tie-up between two major semiconductor manufacturers which Chinese regulators have been blocking.
The White House statement said China was "open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal".
Then came the unexpected final act. Donald Trump would travel to South Korea and walk across the DMZ to meet with Kim Jong Un. President Trump became the only sitting President to set foot on the soil of North Korea. The two leaders then agreed to resume talks within the coming weeks.
It has been 4 months since President Trump walked out of the Hanoi meeting. Perhaps this time the working level negotiators can get a verifiable deal on paper that will set up a plan for the de-Nuking of North Korea. The agreement most likely would take a year. The actual de-Nuking might take a decade! Maybe they could formally end the Korean War. It remains to be seen. We have come a long way from early 2017, when we were on the brink of war. In the meantime the President has reminded everyone - the sanctions will continue.
Before heading back to the US, the President made a stop at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
"You have a presence like no other, like no others. So, as President, I have no greater honor than to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest fighting force on the face of the Earth, the United States military."
They won't say it, I will - Well done Mr President!