Merkel takes aim at Trump ahead of stormy G20

Photo: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared headed for a collision course with US President Donald Trump on Thursday after vowing to make a stand next week for climate protection and open markets at what is expected to be the most fractious G20 summit in years.

Merkel said discussions at the July 7-8 gathering of world leaders in Hamburg would be difficult given Trump's climate scepticism and "America First" stance, but that she was determined to seek a clear commitment to the Paris accord against global warming and a pledge against protectionism.

When Trump announced in early June he would withdraw from the Paris deal, "we knew that we could not expect discussions to be easy" at the G20 summit, Merkel told the German parliament.

"The differences are obvious and it would be dishonest to try to cover that up. That I won't do," she said, adding that the US exit from the 2015 Paris pact had made Europe "more determined than ever" to make the accord a success.

Without naming names, she also warned that "those who think that the problems of this world can be solved with isolationism or protectionism are terribly wrong" and pledged to seek a "clear signal for open markets and against sealing off" at the summit.

Trump's divergent stance has left Western allies struggling to find a common front for the G20 gathering - unlike previous summits, when differences were drawn along global north-south and east-west lines.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the volatile mix for the power meet, the list of potential minefield issues also includes the Syrian war.

Even though Beijing has emerged as an ally in preaching free markets and climate protection, Merkel warned against unfettered Chinese economic expansionism.

"Europe must work hard to defend its influence and above all to speak with one voice to China," Merkel told business weekly WirtschaftsWoche.

"Seen from Beijing, Europe is more like an Asian peninsula. Obviously, we see things differently," she added.

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