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Trump in Japan for G-20 Talks          06/27 06:11

   President Donald Trump on Thursday began what is likely his most 
consequential overseas trip of the year, one that will present the "America 
First" president with a flurry of international crises, tense negotiations and 
a growing global to-do list.

   OSAKA, Japan (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday began what is likely 
his most consequential overseas trip of the year, one that will present the 
"America First" president with a flurry of international crises, tense 
negotiations and a growing global to-do list.

   Trump landed in Osaka, Japan, for the annual Group of 20 summit amid a 
tropical cyclone that is predicted to turn into a typhoon --- a possible 
metaphor for the four days of high-stakes diplomacy that lie ahead. As his 
re-election bid heats up, Trump was eager to produce breakthroughs on a series 
of foreign policy challenges including the showdown between the U.S. and Iran, 
a trade war with China, the threat of fresh election interference by Russia and 
stalled nuclear talks with North Korea.

   As he faces mounting pressures to deliver results, the president will meet 
one-on-one with at least eight world leaders on the summit's sidelines 
beginning with dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The agenda 
for his four days in Asia is as laden with hazards for the president as it is 
light on the ceremonial pomp that marked his recent state visits to Japan and 
the United Kingdom.

   But White House officials are playing down prospects of specific 
accomplishments in what is the president's third international trip in a month, 
even as Trump himself said of his "competitors" from other nations: "That's OK. 
We're doing great. We're doing better than any of them."

   The week was set up to deliver a remarkable split-screen dynamic in American 
politics: While Trump is in Asia, the Democrats vying to replace him next year 
are holding their first primary debates. As Air Force One soared toward Japan, 
Trump delivered a succinct review on Twitter of part 1 of a two-night debate: 
"BORING!"

   Later, the president, ever the media critic, repeatedly mocked NBC for an 
audio malfunction that briefly interrupted the proceedings.

   His itinerary in Osaka includes sit-downs with Russian President Vladimir 
Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi 
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all of whom have authoritarian tendencies, as 
well as disquieted allies including Germany's Angela Merkel and more contented 
ones such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

   The summit will be a test of both Trump's go-it-alone style as well as his 
"America First" doctrine that has frustrated traditional allies over disputes 
on defense spending and trade and set the United States apart from global 
consensus on how to deal with international concerns like climate change and 
Iran's nuclear program.

   The president, who has shown little patience for the subtleties of global 
interactions and whose administration has struggled to grapple with 
simultaneous challenges, left Washington days after pulling back from the brink 
of armed conflict with Iran and as he trades threats over its nuclear program 
and support for terror groups. With Iran threatening to breach uranium 
enrichment limits set in the 2015 nuclear accord as soon as Thursday, Trump 
will be asked to articulate his strategy for containing Iran to skeptical world 
leaders after pulling the U.S. from the deal last year.

   Trump will also find himself face-to-face with Putin for the first time 
since special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation ended without finding 
evidence that the Trump campaign criminally conspired with Russia during the 
2016 election. It will also be their first meeting since their summit in 
Helsinki in July 2018, when Trump declined to side with U.S. intelligence 
agencies over Putin on the question of election interference, leading to an 
uproar at home and abroad.

   Trump told reporters as he left the White House that he expects a "very good 
conversation" with Putin but added that "what I say to him is none of your 
business." His aides have grown worried that Trump may use the meeting to once 
again attack the Mueller probe, particularly since the special counsel now has 
a date to testify before Congress next month.

   Last November, Trump canceled a planned meeting with Putin at the G-20 in 
Argentina after Russia seized two Ukrainian vessels and their crew in the Sea 
of Azov, but the continued detention of the crew members does not appear to be 
deterring the leaders from meeting this time. Aside from Iran, the leaders are 
expected to discuss hotspots in Syria and Venezuela, as well as nuclear weapons.

   White House officials said there are no plans for a meeting in South Korea 
between Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, with whom the president has 
restarted diplomacy-by-correspondence since their failed Hanoi summit in March. 
But there was speculation that the president would make another attempt to 
travel to the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas after fog prevented him 
from taking a helicopter there in November 2017.

   Trump is to speak with South Korean President Moon Jae-in about efforts to 
bring North Korea back to the negotiating table as the American holds out hope 
for an elusive legacy-making nuclear deal. Moon told The Associated Press and 
other news agencies Wednesday that the U.S. and North Korea are holding 
"behind-the-scenes talks" to arrange a third summit between the two leaders.

   With Xi, a senior administration official said, Trump's top aim will be 
rebooting trade negotiations between the two countries after they collapsed 
earlier this year. In an interview with Fox Business Network on Wednesday, 
Trump threatened again to impose even stiffer tariffs on Chinese imports to the 
U.S. if talks remain stalemated. But officials in both nations are looking for 
an off-ramp as concerns mount about the economic impact of the yearlong trade 
war.

   Trump will also meet with the Saudi crown prince, who U.S. intelligence 
services concluded ordered the grisly killing of Washington Post columnist 
Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident. Despite the killing, Trump has continued to 
pursue a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, a lynchpin to the U.S. Middle 
East strategy to counter Iran over its support of militant groups, its nuclear 
program and role in furthering humanitarian disaster in Yemen's civil war.

   On the eve of the trip, Trump showed a willingness to deliver broadsides at 
American allies, questioning the fairness of a mutual defense treaty with 
Japan, a bedrock of the two nations' alliance, while also tweeting a complaint 
about the tariffs India has placed on U.S. goods.

   Never fully willing to pass up domestic politics, even when overseas, Trump 
will have to divide his attention between affairs of state and the debates. He 
will be in meetings with world leaders when Democratic front-runner Joe Biden 
and others take the debate stage on Thursday night. Trump aides believe the 
scheduling fluke will highlight the signature advantage of incumbency --- that 
the president already occupies the job the Democrats want.


(CZ)

 
 
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