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World Trump’s lonely G-20 marks a fitting end

07:40  23 november  2020
07:40  23 november  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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It was a fitting end to Trump ' s career in global multilateralism, which he has expressed his displeasure for since his first group summit -- a G7 meeting held cliffside It was unclear all week whether Trump would even be present for this year's G 20 , which is being held virtually because of the pandemic.

US President Donald Trump , who participated in his final Group of 20 summit on Saturday, skipped a special side-conference focused on coronavirus pandemic and was later spotted But that is likely the last time Trump will meet a summit setting with other world leaders as the end of his presidency nears.

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Donald Trump et al. in a room: President Trump's speech is aired live at the media center for the 15th annual G-20 Leaders' Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 22. (Saudi Press Agency/Reuters) © Saudi Press Agency/Via Reuters President Trump's speech is aired live at the media center for the 15th annual G-20 Leaders' Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 22. (Saudi Press Agency/Reuters)

President Trump’s turn on the world stage ends not with a bang or a whimper, but the closing of a browser window. Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies convened in a virtual summit this weekend that prioritized the global challenge of countering the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was conspicuous in his indifference. At a Saturday session on international vaccine production and distribution, Trump delivered a perfunctory set of remarks where he made no commitment to expand the availability of U.S. vaccines. Then he left to play a round of golf while his counterparts were still speaking.

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But Trump was noticeably absent and White House pool reporters said during a meeting focused on coronavirus preparedness Trump had arrived at one of his golf courses. The G 20 Summit is the main event on Trump ' s Saturday schedule, starting from 8 a.m. ET with no end time listed.

Trump refused to support previously standard language in G 20 communiques about rejecting Yet the attention of the US President – whose term is due to end on 20 January – seemed to be elsewhere. Trump ’ s recorded speech to the summit on the environment was, again predictably, a justification for

According to audio obtained by the Guardian, Trump also told the leaders assembled virtually that he looked forward to working with them “for a long time,” even though most of them had already congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory. His brief address on the pandemic touted the might of the U.S. military and economy and his administration’s role in helping to create a vaccine. “His was the anomalous speech,” a diplomatic source said to the Guardian. “Everyone else talked about global matters of life and death.”

The next day in a meeting on climate change and the environment, Trump once again waved his “America First” standard, decrying global efforts to reckon with climate change. “The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment,” he said. “It was designed to kill the American economy.”

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Trump tweeted unfounded claims of voter ‘fraud’ during his brief appearance at the virtual leadership summit. The number of golf outings Trump has made during his first term far outpaces those made by his predecessor, Barack Obama, despite his claims to the contrary.

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The mounting impatience of his counterparts is not difficult to imagine. Trump’s foray into foreign policy began in pomp and splendor as a guest of Saudi King Salman in Riyadh in May 2017. Nearly four years later, it was fizzling out in a virtual session hosted by the same monarch, whose own officials made statements that seemed to criticize Trump’s approach to the pandemic, including his withdrawal from the U.N.’s World Health Organization.

The summit’s closing joint communique supported strengthening the WHO and boosting overall global coordination. It could be read as “a retort to the Trump administration and its go-it-alone approach to international challenges ranging from the pandemic to climate change,” reported my colleague Kareem Fahim.

“As best we know, no G-20 participants told Trump to his virtual face that his time is up, and no one here will write him off until he is finally gone,” noted CNN correspondent Nic Robertson. “But he seemed to make the point himself as the G-20 wrapped and the King delivered the final communique while surrounded by leaders in their zoom boxes, Trump was not in his chair — instead a disinterested underling, an apparent final gesture of contempt.”

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President Donald Trump participated in his final Group of 20 summit Saturday, but skipped a special side-conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic. He was later spotted at his golf course outside of Washington, DC. CNN' s Nic Robertson has more.

Trump ’ s most significant achievement at the G - 20 came during a two-plus-hour meeting with Putin, where the two leaders struck an agreement for a The president largely avoided the cringe-worthy moments that marked May’s G-7 outing and trip to the Middle East, though social media exploded


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Trump was never a fan of multilateral summitry. One of the most iconic images of the Trump presidency emerged from a 2018 meeting of the Group of Seven major economies: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, flanked by other leaders, stared down a seated Trump from across a table. He smirked with his arms folded, evoking an unrepentant schoolchild. Trump’s positions on trade or Russia or any number of other political challenges that saw him clash with allies might not have changed. But his performance this weekend showed that the fire of “America First” is petering out.

My colleagues report Trump is in private already discussing his next act with advisers. It may involve another media reincarnation for the former reality TV host as well as preparations for a fresh presidential run in 2024. But his efforts could be complicated by the extensive catalogue of lawsuits and legal investigations that await him and his business organization once he leaves the White House.

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His administration, though, is still shaking things up overseas even as Trump reckons with his looming exit. On Sunday, the United States formally quit the Open Skies treaty, a nearly three-decades-old pact between the West and Russia that allowed for unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory. The agreement was forged to bring down the risks of an accidental war, but the Trump administration argued that Russia had been violating it. The Russians deny the charge, while Biden and a host of former U.S. defense officials criticized Trump’s decision to collapse the accord. To make it harder for a Biden administration to reverse the move, the Trump administration has started to liquidate U.S. Air Force equipment used under the terms of the treaty.

That adds to the list of possible foreign policy headaches Trump and his allies can still create for Biden. On a tour of Gulf countries, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed the administration would maintain “maximum pressure” on Iran through Trump’s final day in office and suggested more sanctions may follow in the coming “weeks and months.” The administration could also move to designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization, which would complicate peace negotiations and humanitarian efforts in the war-ravaged country.

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For this year’s G-20 hosts, the summit hardly delivered the soft power windfall they had reason to expect when preparations for it began. The run-up to this weekend’s events saw a coordinated boycott by the mayors of major Western cities and a pressure campaign by international advocacy groups to draw attention to Saudi Arabia’s grim human rights record. Trump shielded the Saudis from criticism in Washington, especially after the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

It’s unclear if Biden will make good on his campaign pledge to make Riyadh a “pariah.” But Saudi officials are already adjusting to a post-Trump reality. “We deal with the presidents once they’re in office, and we have huge interests with the United States,” Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, told CNN over the weekend. “We are working together on global economic security, on energy security, on financial issues, and we are key in terms of the Muslim world. These interests are huge for us and for the United States.”

Read more:

G-20 leaders close Riyadh summit with calls for coordinated response to coronavirus pandemic

Group of 20 leaders call for global coronavirus vaccine access as U.S. labs near approval

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