Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

G20 latest: Donald Trump says ‘reformer’ Saudi crown prince sparked a positive revolution

Leaders held a flurry of meetings before the major international conference concludes

On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday, United States President Donald Trump said he appreciates Saudi Arabia’s military purchases and called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “a friend of mine” during an early morning meeting.

Mr Trump said the young crown prince was a reformer who is opening up the kingdom economically and socially. The US president made his first overseas official visit after taking office to the kingdom in 2017.

"It's an honour to be with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine – a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia," Mr Trump said ahead of the bilateral meeting with the crown prince.

"I think especially what you’ve done for women and seeing what’s happening – it’s like a revolution in a very positive way," he added.

"We’re trying to do our best for our country, Saudi Arabia, and it’s a long journey," the crown prince said.

Saudi Arabia has put through massive orders for US military equipment in recent years as it seeks to reform and modernise its armed forces.

Despite strong support for the moves from the White House, the kingdom’s plan hit a roadblock with the Senate voting to block arms sales and calling on the US to withdraw any forces from Yemen. Mr Trump, however, has blasted the move and vowed to block it if the House of Representatives passes the bill.

US President Donald Trump listens while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud speaks before a working breakfast during the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. AFP
US President Donald Trump listens while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud speaks before a working breakfast during the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. AFP

Mr Trump said Saudi purchases of military equipment supported at least 1 million US jobs.

The two leaders are also believed to have discussed recent tensions with Iran, who the US has blamed for attacks on oil tankers in Gulf shipping lanes. US officials are discussing plans with allies, including Saudi Arabia, to protect the key shipping lanes around the Gulf region.

Prince Mohammed also met with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the pair discussed economic, environmental and geopolitical issues.

OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE 29: Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, meets the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman, during a bilateral meeting on June 29, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. World leaders have been meeting in Osaka for the annual Group of 20 summit to discuss economic, environmental and geopolitical issues. The US-China trade war has dominated the agenda with U.S President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping scheduled to meet on Saturday for an extended bilateral in an attempt to resolve the ongoing the trade war between the world's two largest economies. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Theresa May discussed Iran tensions and the Yemen conflict with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Getty Images

Officials said the pair discussed the recent Iran tensions and the need for de-escalation. A British official also said that Ms May had discussed the Yemen conflict with Prince Mohammed and reiterated the importance of finding a peaceful solution through UN mediation.

The Kingdom and other Arab coalition countries have repeatedly backed the work of UN envoy on Yemen Martin Griffiths and welcomed a breakthrough in December to avert a government-led offensive on the Houthi rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah with both sides agreeing to pull back.

However, months later, many elements of the agreement have not been fully implemented and the government of Yemen has accused the rebels of negotiating in bad faith and using the agreement to buy time and increase attacks elsewhere in the country.

Ankara says Trump wants end to Turkey S-400 standoff without damaging relations

Turkey says that United States President Donald Trump wants to end the standoff over Ankara’s procurement of Russian missile systems without damaging bilateral ties.

Turkey and the United States have been at odds over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems, a move Washington has warned would trigger sanctions. Turkey has so far dismissed the warnings and said it would not turn back from the deal.

Mr Trump said on Saturday that America was in a "complicated" situation in how to respond to Turkey's deal to procure the Russian weapons but he expressed sympathy with his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Recep Erdogan. Mr Trump blamed former US President Barack Obama's administration for placing conditions on Turkey's purchase of the US equivalent Patriot missile defence systems.

"We're looking at different solutions. It’s a problem, there’s no question about it," Mr Trump said at the outset of a bilateral meeting with Mr Erdogan in Osaka, western Japan.

Mr Erdogan said there were no setbacks in a deal to procure Russian S-400 missile systems, and added that "eyes are on the delivery process", expected in the first half of July.

Turkey has dismissed the warnings and said it would not back down, and ties between the NATO allies have become strained.

Speaking before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan, Erdogan said the deal for the S-400s showed improving ties between Turkey and Russia.

"Now, I believe eyes are on the delivery process of this issue, but there are no setbacks in our agreement here anyway," Erdogan said.

He added that it was a priority for Turkey that the deal includes the joint production of the systems and a technology transfer. This is something the Russian government has been open to but the US has ruled out if Ankara were to buy the Patriot systems.

epa07681558 A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows US President Donald J. Trump (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 29 June 2019. It is the first time that Japan hosts a G20 summit. The summit gathers leaders from 19 countries and the European Union to discuss topics such as global economy, trade and investment, innovation and employment. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 29 June 2019. EPA, HO

The United States says the S-400s are not compatible with NATO's defence network and could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, an aircraft Turkey is helping to build and planning to buy. The US has ended the programme for Turkish pilots to train on the aircraft and has suspended delivery of parts needed for the planned delivery that is now in doubt.

Mr Erdogan also said it was important for Ankara to finish the first reactor in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant by 2023, adding that non-nuclear equipment at the plant should be procured from Turkey.

Akkuyu is Turkey's first nuclear power plant and is being built by Russia's Rosatom along the Mediterranean coast, for a cost Mr Erdogan has previously said would exceed $20 billion.

Trump offers to meet North Korea's Kim in DMZ

President Donald Trump says he may be meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Sunday during a visit to the demilitarized zone with South Korea. But he says nothing has been set just yet.

Mr Trump offered the update during a press conference as he wraps up his appearance at the G20 summit in Japan hours after tweeting his invitation.

The president says Mr Kim has responded to the offer and was “very receptive” to the idea. “We may be meeting with Chairman Kim… we’ll find out,” he said.

It’s unclear whether Mr Trump was referring to a private communication or public comments from North’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who called the prospect of a meeting a “very interesting suggestion.”

Xi and Trump agree truce in US-China trade war, reports say

Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Donald Trump have agreed to a new cease-fire in a yearlong trade war.

"We're holding back on tariffs and they're going to buy farm products," Mr Trump told a news conference after a two-day summit of the Group of 20 in Osaka, western Japan.

According to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua on Saturday, the leaders agreed that stalled trade talks would resume and that the US would hold off on threatened additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

The two leaders had sought to de-escalate a prolonged trade war between the economic powerhouses despite doubts about their willingness to compromise on a long term solution.

The apparent truce marks a pattern for talks between Mr Trump and Mr Xi, who have professed their friendship with each other and hit the pause button on protectionist measures after their conversations, only to see negotiations later break down over the contentious details.

Updated: June 29, 2019 02:57 PM

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