President Donald Trump has ripped into a string of nations ahead of his arrival at the G20 summit in Osaka, as the Japanese hosts attempt to keep the spotlight off the bombastic leader.
On board Air Force One en route to typhoon-expectant Japan, Trump fired off a characteristically bullish tweet, chiding long-standing ally India for ‘unacceptable’ tariffs on American goods.
Before setting off he slammed Vietnam as the ‘single worst abuser’ on trade, lashed Germany as ‘delinquent’ on funding contributions to NATO, and even mocked hosts Japan, which has been under a US military umbrella since World War II.
‘If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. We will go in and protect them with our lives and with our treasure,’ he said. But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us. They can watch it on a Sony television.’
Ahead of the G20 meetings on Friday and Saturday, Trump also blasted Beijing, claiming they wanted to do a deal because the world’s number-two economy was ‘going down the tubes’.
US President Donald Trump waves as he disembarks Air Force One during a refueling stop at Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska – while on his way to Japan Trump fired off a bullish tweet slamming India for ‘unacceptable’ tariffs on American goods
China’s President Xi Jinping arrives at Kansai International Airport in Izumisano, Osaka, western Japan – he wasn’t spared a Trump ribbing before his arrival, with the President saying China needed a trade deal because it was ‘going down the tubes’
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving at the wet runway as rain poured down over Osaka on Thursday – while on his way Trump said Modi’s tariffs on American goods were not acceptable
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at Kansai airport in Osaka on Thursday
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives ahead of the G20 – it will be her last summit as she is set to be replaced as Prime Minister at the end of next month
Furious at what he sees as an unfair advantage in the trading system, Trump has already hit Beijing with $200 billion in levies on Chinese imports and appeared to threaten more.
‘You have another $325 billion that I haven’t taxed yet – it’s ripe for taxing, for putting tariffs on,’ he said in an interview with Fox Business Network.
Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Osaka several hours before Trump in driving rain as a potential typhoon edges towards Japan. The two leaders are expected to meet Saturday.
Barely pulling its punches, Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said a ‘certain country in the G20 resorts to such tactics as raising tariffs and threatening trade wars to make its trading partners knuckle under to unreasonable demands’.
Such ‘unilateral bullying’ could have ‘potentially devastating consequences for global prosperity,’ Xinhua said in an editorial.
Most experts say a formal deal is unlikely at the summit due to a lack of time to prepare the complex issues involved and believe a ceasefire and commitment to keep talking is the most likely outcome.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May arrive at Kansai airport as rain lashed the runway, with Japan anticipating a typhoon
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine arriving in Osaka – Erdogan has recently suffered a setback at home as his party lost the mayoralty of Istanbul to a secular rival
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 summit
‘I would be very, very surprised if they could work out all of these complicated disagreements in the next few days,’ said David Dollar, a China expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
‘What I’m looking for is whether there’s some kind of mini-deal and the most important aspect of that would be the US agreeing to hold off on the next round of tariffs,’ added Dollar.
‘I think if Xi Jinping and President Trump have some negotiations… that will have a very positive impact on the world economy,’ Naoyuki Yoshino, head of the Asian Development Bank Institute, told AFP.
While US-China trade is likely to dominate the meeting, world leaders are also facing a perfect storm of geopolitical hotspots from Iran to North Korea and Venezuela.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at Kansai airport in Izumisano city – furious at what he sees as an unfair advantage in the trading system, Trump has already hit Beijing with $200 billion in levies on Chinese imports and appeared to threaten more
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives ahead of the G20 on the rainy windswept tarmac in Osaka – he recently met Trump during a state visit
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook arrive at Kansai airport after a relatively short skip over on the plane, with just an hour and 50 minutes of flight time
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, center, arrives at Kansai International Airport ahead of meetings on Friday and Saturday
Tensions with Tehran are at fever pitch after Trump pulled back from military action at the last minute in response to the downing of an unmanned US drone.
Before leaving for the G20, Trump said he did not seek conflict with the long-time US foe but warned it ‘wouldn’t last very long’ if war did break out.
Iran will be one of several topics when Trump meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the meeting, along with arms control, the crisis in Venezuela, and Ukraine.
‘I’ll have a very good conversation with him,’ Trump told reporters at the White House. ‘What I say to him is none of your business.’
Hosts Japan have desperately tried to steer attention away from the Trump show and on to the formal aspects of their G20 agenda, including the challenges posed by ageing populations and climate change.
Security is tight as the world’s most powerful leaders arrived in Japan – the Hanshin Expressway is closed ahead of the G20 summit on Thursday
‘Confrontation tends to attract attention… but Japan, as the chair, hopes to find common ground rather than differences in opinions,’ said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he left Tokyo for Osaka.
But tensions over the final statement on climate change are likely to burst into the open, with a German source saying it was ‘particularly difficult this year’ to reach agreement.
EU Council President Donald Tusk summed up the pre-meeting mood by predicting ‘a difficult summit’ in talks with Abe, according to a Japanese government source.