JUNE 27, 2019
OSAKA, Japan – President Donald Trump began a series of G-20 meetings Thursday by praising U.S. allies generally and criticizing others over various economic and defense policies.
“We’ve been very good to our allies – we work with our allies, we take care of our allies,” Trump said before a working dinner with Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his first stop after landing in Japan for the G-20 summit.
But en route to Osaka, Trump criticized India for imposing tariffs on U.S. products, and again complained that Japan and Germany were not contributing enough to mutual defense treaties.
Trump sounded more upbeat about his highest profile meeting at the G-20, a Saturday session with China President Xi Jinping to discuss the revival of talks toward a new trade agreement. Trump has another high-profile meeting Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“So, we’ll see what happens with China, with Russia, with Japan, with many countries,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House.
U.S. lawmakers have frequently hit Trump for being friendly to autocratic leaders like Xi and Putin while being critical of democratic allies in Europe and Asia.
Trump landed Thursday night in Osaka amid heavy rain and wind, the fallout from a nearby typhoon.
This is Trump’s third foreign trip in a month’s time, his second to Japan. In late May, he traveled to Tokyo to meet Japan’s new emperor. Three weeks ago, Trump made a state visit to the United Kingdom and attended a service in Normandy, France, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Those trips featured much pomp and ceremony. This one is all business.
In addition to G-20 group meetings that start Friday, Trump has one-on-one meetings with a variety of world leaders.
Friday’s schedule includes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – all of whom Trump criticized in the hours leading up to his arrival in Osaka.
In an interview with Fox Business News, Trump complained that the United States is obligated by treaty to defend Japan if it is attacked, “but if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all … They can watch it on a Sony television.”
The U.S. commitment stems from a treaty it signed with Japan after it became an ally in the years after World War II. Japanese leaders have consistently said it would help the U.S. any way it could if necessary.
As for Germany, Trump again said it is not spending enough on defense under a pledge it made to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.German leaders have said their NATO commitment involves money for their own national defense, and they believe their defense budget is sufficient.
Later, while aboard Air Force One, Trump tweeted that he is looking forward to speaking with Modi so that he can protest India’s decision to increase tariffs on imports from the United States.
“This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!” Trump tweeted.
While criticizing India, Trump has been known to back tariffs himself – including heavy ones on China that are at the heart of a trade war that has roiled markets and raised prices for producers and consumers worldwide.
The China trade war one of the topics of the dinner conversation with Morrison, the Australian prime minister who in recent days said the American-Chinese trade war is hurting other countries as well.
“The collateral damage is spreading,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney this week. “The impact of any further deterioration of the relationship will not be limited to these two major powers.”
Other G-20 topics include tensions with Iran and stalled negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
Allies want Trump to offer a plan to contain Iran, which is threatening to revive nuclear programs that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
The G-20 comes a week after Trump ordered military retaliation against Iran for shooting down a U.S. drone, then changed his mind and went with increased economic sanctions. Trump is trying to pressure Iran into making a permanent pledge not to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran, meanwhile, has said it will defend itself against U.S. aggression.
Some allies protested Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, in which the U.S. and other countries withdrew economic sanctions on the Tehran regime as it gave up the means to make nuclear weapons.
Trump also meets Friday with Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who had an unusual arrival to the G-20 summit. A Brazilian airman traveling in his entourage on a back-up plane was arrested during a re-fueling stop in Seville, Spain, on charges of carrying 39 kilograms of cocaine.
Courtesy/Source: This article originally appeared on USA TODAY