German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed fellow Group of 20 leaders to compromise at the start of talks on climate and trade that have pitted U.S. President Donald Trump against virtually every other country in the club of leading economies.
The host of the G20 summit addressed her counterparts on Friday in a hall at the Hamburg convention centre, after video footage showed Trump shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the first face-to-face encounter between the two men.
Merkel was shown talking casually with Putin as the leaders entered the hall, then joining French President Emmanuel Macron in a three-way discussion with Trump, who was seated between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Britain’s Theresa May.
“We all know the big global challenges and we know that time is pressing,” Merkel told the group.
“And so solutions can only be found if we are ready for compromise and move towards each other, but without – and I stress this – bending too much, because of course we can also state clearly when there are differences.”
Trump later held bilateral talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Putin.
The meeting with the Russian leader is drawing intense scrutiny because of Trump’s election campaign pledge to seek a rapprochement with Moscow. So far he has been unable to deliver on that promise amid accusations from U.S. intelligence services that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election and investigations into the Trump campaign’s links to the country.
Merkel, who is gearing up for a parliamentary election in September, faces the daunting task of steering the G20 towards a consensus on trade, climate change and migration – all