Scott Morrison has told of his support of the US President Donald Trump’s strong stance against China, as the two met in an informal meeting at the G20 Summit overnight.
Mr Morrison was quizzed about whether he believed Donald Trump to be engaging in an active trade war to leverage better positioning for the US, to which Mr Morrison replied, “Well, that phrase was never used.”
Mr Morrison reiterated that he believed the US was looking for reform in it’s trade deals with China, saying some issues, “have long been unresolved and that at the end of the day, what this would result in is a stronger, more open, fairer, freer trade system with a strong rules-based order.”
As world leaders have met in Argentina for the 2018 Summit, Mr Morrison wasted no time in making friends with the divisive President of the United States.
The annual meeting commenced overnight with 20 leaders of the world’s economic powers, including Russia, China, the United States and the European Union.
.@ScottMorrisonMP : The trade discussion is very alive, it is not surprising that there is tensions from time to time.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust)
Asked about he and Trump’s similar views on intellectual property theft, Mr Morrison said data transference had come to be “the lifeblood of the new economy”.
“There needs to be some sensible rules that protect propriety and intellectual property in these situations.”
When asked if he believes China needed to do more, Mr Morrison deferred saying the issues he’d highlighted for resolution could apply broadly across “the global trading system”.
Mr Morrison has employed a forceful rhetoric around trade and the importance of the G20 Summit, and his recent press address was no different. “One in five jobs in Australia are down to trade. I mean that’s why we’re here.
“The hospitality is pleasant and we appreciate it, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because by advocating to ensure that these trade rules are in place and we’re moving this agenda forward, that creates jobs in Australia.”
TRUMP FINDS NEW FRIEND IN SCOMO
The pair held a meeting on the sidelines of the summit where Mr Morrison was forced to explain the latest leadership spill, which saw former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull axed from the position.
“They have their inquiries,” Mr Morrison said of the group of leaders at the summit. Mr Morrison is Australia’s third prime minister in just five years.
TENSIONS BETWEEN THE USA AND CHINA
Mr Trump has been attacked for destroying the G20’s past unity on trade and climate change. But he won a breakthrough with the signing of a new trade pact for North America and, having ignited a trade war with China, touted “good signs” ahead of a dinner with President Xi Jinping.
Their dinner is scheduled for Saturday night Argentinian time, where the two superpowers will attempt to resolve large trade disputes. The informal dinner is the only planned meeting between the US and China during the G20 Summit.
Prime Minister Morrison is also scheduled to dine with President Xi this weekend, in his own high stakes dinner that is supposed to de-escalate Australia’s own simmering tensions with the superpower.
Australia has consistently attempted to remain neutral, holding important diplomatic and trade ties with both of the superpowers.
“There will be tensions from time to time as you transition from an old economy to a new economy,” Mr Morrison said.
“Some of the old rules are a bit clunky. They need a service.”
Trade works. That’s my message to our friends and partners at the #G20Summit2018. A productive first day of discussions including with Presidents @realDonaldTrump and @EmmanuelMacron. pic.twitter.com/82PNFJGkdj— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45)
But Mr Trump seemed unphased, declaring things were “so far so good” with his relationship with Australia.
“You’ve done a lot of the things that they’ve wanted over there and that’s why you’re sitting right here,” Mr Morrison beamed at Mr Trump.
Mr Trump gave a glowing endorsement of Mr Morrison, saying he’d done “a fantastic job in a very short period of time” as prime minister.
Morrison met with Trump as the two discussed trade issues. The Prime Minister had earlier tweeted his excitement about the “pull-aside” meeting.
Looking forward to meeting with President Trump later today in Buenos Aires at the G20. We both know that a strong economy and national security is the foundation for everything else. pic.twitter.com/QAkdEMqKSy— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)
“Just getting to know each other and so far so good, I think it’s going to be a great relationship,” Mr Trump told reporters.
Mr Morrison was pleased to tell reporters about how Australia and the USA “have always been the greatest of friends.”
But speaking to The New York Times journalist Maureen O’Dowd, his messaging was a little less trade and a little more parade.
“We don’t want all this political correct nonsense telling people they can’t have an Easter hat parade.” Mr Morrison said. He told the Times when it comes to him and President Trump, “I think we both get it”.
“(Trump) is very practical,” he said.
“I like that about him a lot, actually.”
The New York Times column refers to Mr Morrison as “lonely” President Trump’s only friend.
“If you want a friend in politics, get an Aussie,” it reads.
SAUDI PRINCE DELIGHTS ON STAGE
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showed himself to be no pariah Friday at the G20 summit, with a beaming Vladimir Putin welcoming him but European leaders warning him over the killing of a dissident journalist.
Less than two months after Saudi Arabia outraged allies when a hit team murdered Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, Prince Mohammed flew into Buenos Aires to take his place among leaders of the top 20 global economies, a sign that he intends to remain firmly in charge.
In an image that quickly went viral online, Russian President Putin and the 33-year-old prince grinned broadly and gave each other an effusive handshake as if they were long-lost friends reunited at the G20.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld)
Their embrace comes amid reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached a pact to cut oil production when the OPEC cartel meets on December 6 in Vienna, to help shore up collapsing crude prices.
But the prince appeared to receive a more critical reception from French President Emmanuel Macron, who was overheard on a microphone voicing concerns.
“Don’t worry,” Prince Mohammed is heard saying in English to the French leader, who responds, “I do worry. I am worried.” The clip was partially inaudible and the context of the exchange was not entirely clear.
But it received wide traction on social media, with Macron telling the prince, “You never listen to me,” to which Prince Mohammed replies, “I will listen, of course.” The French presidency said that Macron spoke to the prince about the killing of Khashoggi and the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Macron told Prince Mohammed that Europeans wanted international investigators to take part in the probe on Khashoggi’s death and stressed “the necessity of a political solution in Yemen,” the Elysee Palace said.
TRUMP MEETS WITH SAUDI LEADER
The prince was also seen chatting with President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka, although in a nod to US domestic outrage over Saudi Arabia, the White House downplayed the encounter.
“They exchanged pleasantries at the leaders’ session as he did with nearly every leader in attendance,” a senior White House official said.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, said “we had no discussion. We might, but we had none.” Until Khashoggi’s killing, Mr Trump had been an unabashed fan of Prince Mohammed as the young leader consolidated power and detained prominent Saudis, with the heir apparent forging a particularly close relationship with Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner.
Mr Trump has since voiced sadness over the killing of Khashoggi, who lived in the United States and wrote for The Washington Post.
But, in an exclamation point-heavy statement before the summit, Mr Trump said it did not matter whether Prince Mohammed knew about Khashoggi’s death because Saudi Arabia was important for US business and for its hostility to Iran.
The US Senate nonetheless moved this week to end support for the Saudi-led war against rebels in Yemen amid outrage over attacks on civilian sites including a school bus and hospitals.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking to Sky News before the summit, said she would press the crown prince both on Yemen and Khashoggi at the G20.
“The Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it’s credible, that it’s transparent, and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it, and that those responsible are held to account,” May said
TRUMP DODGES PUTIN
US President Donald Trump went out of his way Friday to dodge President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, but still couldn’t shake the growing Russia collusion scandal back home.
Mr Trump was meant to hold a one-on-one meeting with the Kremlin leader Friday, followed by an expanded session with their delegations.
But during the flight to Argentina on Thursday for the two-day talks, Mr Trump abruptly cancelled, saying this was due to Washington’s anger at a Russian navy assault on Ukrainian ships last weekend.
Once at the summit venue, it became impossible to avoid Putin altogether, because the group’s 20 leaders were having lunch, as well as other joint activities. But when gathering for the traditional “family photo,” Mr Trump walked past the Russian president without stopping.
Asked later if he would exchange pleasantries with Putin, Mr Trump said: “Not particularly. I don’t know.” Many were not convinced, asking whether Mr Trump’s snub of Putin was more due to growing discomfort over the probe into his allegedly improper contacts with Moscow than outrage over Ukraine.
This prompted Mr Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders to reiterate on Friday that the president’s only reasoning for the dramatic schedule change was Ukraine.
However, Sanders also lashed out at the collusion probe, which she branded “the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax,” and said the controversy “probably does undermine our relationship with Russia.”
On Friday, before launching into the G20 diplomatic schedule, Mr Trump fired off two tweets angrily denying that he improperly mixed his business and political ambitions — something that critics claim could have put the US leader under the Kremlin’s influence.
“Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly),” Mr Trump tweeted Friday.
“Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail,” he said.
“Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia,” the Republican leader continued. “Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!” Before leaving for the G20, Mr Trump called Mr Cohen “weak” and said “he is lying about a project that everybody knew about.