OSAKA: Leaders of the most powerful nations on earth arrived in the Japanese city of Osaka amid storms and downpours — with the possibility of further disturbances ahead when they meet formally for the first time today to begin the two-day G20 summit.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was among those who arrived on Thursday ahead of a gathering that will focus on trade, demographics, the environment and the digital economy.
US President Donald Trump arrival was accompanied by a flurry of Twitter comments by him about some of the other heads of state attending this 14th meeting of world leaders. It comes at a time when tensions between the United States and its international rivals are running higher than they have for years.
Trump is expected to confront the biggest issue looming over Osaka — the escalating trade war with China — during a one-to-one meeting with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping. The US leader is also at odds with the EU and India over trade and other geopolitical issues. He has also criticized his host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, over his posture on defense.
The large Saudi delegation led by the crown prince touched down in the city ahead of today’s “family portrait” the leaders that traditionally marks the start of the summit. The leaders will then meet to discuss the digital economy and global trade and investment, before heading off for a cultural program and dinner at Osaka’s Geihinkan castle.
The culmination of the gathering is the publication of a joint communique at the end of the summit, in which the world leaders traditionally attempt to display a united front in tackling pressing global issues such as climate change, trade and the economy.
The event is taking place amid tight security in the city, which is 500 km from the capital Tokyo, as Japanese authorities fear protests by environmental activists and others. Travel and transport are severely restricted on the route from the airport in Osaka Bay to the International Exhibition Center, or Intex, where the summit is taking place.
Next year, Saudi Arabia will become the first Middle Eastern country to host the event, in Riyadh.
Saudi Ambassador to Japan Naif bin Marzouq Al-Fahadi said: “The recent reforms in the Kingdom, especially economic ones, have contributed to strengthening the image of the Kingdom globally and raising its level of influence in international forums.”