U.S. President Donald Trump says he is talking Monday with the leaders of three European allies – Germany, France and Italy – before his trip to the summit of leaders of the world’s biggest economies later in the week in Hamburg, Germany .
In early morning Twitter comments, Trump gave no hint about what he will discuss with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Merkel said she expects world leaders at the G-20 conclave will broadly agree on the imperative of the continued fight against global terrorism, but disagree on other issues.
“I don’t think we’ll have unified positions on all issues at the end, but it’s sensible and honest to talk to each other on all issues of international diplomacy,” she said at a news conference in Berlin Monday.
She said Trump is at odds with other global leaders on some issues, perhaps most notably in pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.
“We know certain positions that the American government holds and I don’t expect that these positions will be abandoned as a result of a two-day trip to Hamburg,” Merkel said. The German leader and Trump plan to meet with each on Thursday, just before the summit.
Before he will meet with them at the summit, Trump spoke Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to discuss the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program. Trump also talked with Middle East leaders in an effort to untangle the diplomatic standoff between Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries with Qatar.
The White House said Trump and Xi “reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” while Trump also raised the threat of North Korea’s ballistic missile program.
Chinese state media said Xi told also Trump “negative factors” have affected U.S.-China relations, and Xi hopes Trump will appropriately handle Taiwan-related issues according to the “One China” principle.
Since 1979, the United States has recognized China’s official position that Taiwan is part of China. Last week, the U.S. approved $1.42 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.
In the conversation with Abe, the White House said both leaders were united on increasing pressure on North Korea to “change its dangerous path” and the United States and Japan are ready to respond to “any threat or action taken by North Korea.”
The White House statements ended by saying Trump and Xi, and Trump and Abe, look forward to meeting in person this week at the summit.
The White House said Trump also talked with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, as well as Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Trump “addressed his concerns,” the White House said, about the dispute the Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have with Qatar. The four countries have accused Qatar of promoting terrorism in the region and have demanded Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera television network, evict Turkish troops from Qatar, and curb its ties with Iran.
Trump “reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology,” the White House said, and also “underscored that unity in the region is critical” to combating terrorism.
On Monday, Trump said of his call with King Salman, “Interesting things are happening!” but did not elaborate.
In addition to bilateral meetings with the Chinese and Japanese leaders in Hamburg, Trump is also due to hold talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Sunday, at least 10,000 people in Hamburg peacefully protested the upcoming summit, one of about 30 protests planned in the coming days, in part to protest Trump’s policies, including his announced intention to pull the U.S. out of the climate change agreement.
Summits of world leaders often are held in exclusive, remote resorts, to easier to control security, but this year’s G-20 gathering is in the heart of Hamburg, by design.
Merkel picked the city as the summit host in part to show world leaders that protests play an accepted role in a vibrant democracy.