Since its foundation in 1999, the 2017 summit of G20 countries in Hamburg in Germany beginning Friday, July 7, will perhaps be one of the most tense in a long time. Leaders from across the globe will need to address a number of challenges in the two-day event. In fact, the global reality the leaders will face at the summit will be much different from what it was even a year ago when the G20 leaders had met in Hangzhou in China.
Here are the top issues that G20 countries will be busy handling at the 2017 summit:
The Hamburg summit will see US President Donald Trump, a man known for his controversial words and action, taking on the rest of the world and it will be an occasion of protectionism locking horns with globalism. Trump has already done enough to 'make America great again' by pulling his country out of various key international platforms, including the Paris climate agreement.
It was ahead of the Hangzhou summit last year that Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had ratified the Paris climate deal with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. World leaders have tried to convince Trump the significance of the climate change deal and one might see whether the gap between Trump and the rest has grown even wider.
The summit will also be interesting from the viewpoint of the maiden meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Will the two finally and formally mend the ties in the wake of the Syrian and Ukrainian crises and also the accusations of Russia meddling in the American presidential election last year?
The North Korean problem:
With the pariah state turning more and more ambitious every year, the G20 summit in Hamburg will undoubtedly be busy discussing it. Pyongyang's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test is expected to make the conversations more pointed. The Chinese are likely to face more pressure from the US and other G20 countries on the task of taming North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
South Korea has already warned that the North Koreans could conduct another nuclear weapons test after Hamburg talks get over, just like it had done in the wake of the Hangzhou meeting in 2016.
Trump has taken a strong stand on North Korea unlike a more patient Obama and has also warned China that it would take on Pyongyang by itself since Beijing was not doing enough. The US's inclination towards using military options against Pyongyang could make the G20 summit in Hamburg a more tense occasion.
The standoff between the two Asian neighbours over the border in the Sikkim sector will be another top concern. China has already denied the possibility of a meeting between Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the atmosphere is not conducive. It means the meetings of the BRICS leaders on the sidelines of G20 summit will also remain incomplete.
French President Emmanuel Macron:
Emmanuel Macron, who had achieved a landslide victory in early May to revive the hopes for the advocates of globalisation against the rising tides of populism, will be closely observed when he takes the stage in his maiden G20 summit. A strong advocate against climate change, it will be seen whether the 39-year-old leader can convince Trump about the reality of climate change and make him change his decision.