11/29/2018, 18.54
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Waiting for the G20 in a locked down Buenos Aires

by Silvina Premat

Residents have been invited to leave the city during the summit. World leaders are expected to discuss the state of world trade and climate sustainability. All eyes are on the Trump-Xi meeting after the summit. A warm welcome has been reserved for Argentinian-born Queen Máxima of the Netherlands who is present as a UN representative.

Buenos Aires (AsiaNews) – The G20 summit of world leaders will start in a few hours in Buenos Aires, where the city is in a virtual lockdown. Between the afternoon and midnight of 1st December, only official cars will be able to drive in major sections of the Argentine capital, shuttling heads of state and government and their delegations. Anti-summit protesters are also expected. Sharpshooters will line the rooftops of key buildings.

The possibility of terrorist attacks or other acts of violence, like the last G20 meeting in Hamburg in 2017, has led the British government to issue an advisory for its citizens who plan to travel to Argentina over the next couple of days, highlighting real risks and the need to take certain precautions, such as putting off the trip altogether.

As Xi Jinping did two years ago at the G20 in Hangzhou, China, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and his government have urged Buenos Aires residents to leave the city, between tomorrow and 2 December. City authorities have declared tomorrow a "non-working" day.

For Argentina, this summit is a major turning point, the first of its kind since its founding two centuries ago. The formal agenda of the summit of world leaders includes the state of world trade and climate sustainability. Other issues brought by engagement groups are corruption, education, work and energy transition, among others. After working on the latter over the past year, some 1,400 people, including invited guests, are expected.

However, all eyes are on the meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping following the formal G20, next Saturday evening. The two leaders will dine together at a high security secret location in the Argentine capital.

This summit within the summit will take place a few days before fresh US tariffs kick in. For some analysis, the goal of Trump’s decision to hike levies (from 10 to 25 per cent) on Chinese imports is to stop them. Others think the talks are meant to put greater pressure on Xi to get China to invest more in the United States or get better conditions for US companies in China.

As the summit gets closer, the initial pessimism among political scientists about the possibility of a joint statement coming out of the meeting has somewhat improved. Now some feel that it might actually be issued.

In the coming hours, the big names of international politics will show up. In addition to Trump and Xi, there will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The other leaders on the G20 list are South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Latin America will be represented by the host, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Brazilian President Michel Temer and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived two days ago with a delegation of some 400 people and several armoured cars (Trump and Erdogan too will be bringing their own cars). A few hours before the arrival of the Saudi prince, Human Rights Watch filed a complaint against him for war crimes in Yemen, a move more for effect than real action.

Among the people invited to the G20, Argentinians will be looking with particular attention and affection at one of the two most famous Argentines in the world, namely Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. The other one is Pope Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio. The Dutch monarch will be present as a representative of the United Nations and as such will take part in a number of meetings organised on the sidelines of the G20 summit. An economist by training, Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti worked in banking in New York before she met Willem-Alexander, the current Dutch king. She is expected to promote microcredit as an “antidote to poverty”.

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