Following intense negotiations, the G20 Osaka Summit on 28-29 June ended with a communiqué issued on behalf of the participating heads of state and government, focused on the global economy, global finance, global economic growth, climate change and even global health. Security issues – such as growing tensions with Iran, the fragility of the situations in Syria and Afghanistan and the future of arms control diplomacy (such as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, currently under pressure) were not mentioned. Some of the threats currently jeopardizing global peace and security were, however, undoubtedly addressed during the numerous bilateral meetings that took place on the periphery of the tightly controlled summit.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had at least ten bilateral meetings with world leaders during the summit, informed the media on 29 June that the EU had finally agreed the MERCOSUR free trade agreement after 20 years of negotiations. Trade relationships between Europe and Latin America can now be expected to improve substantially – with a consequential beneficial effect on security.

Following his participation in the G20 meeting, US President Donald Trump travelled to South Korea. In a move that he says was spontaneous rather than planned (and one that stunned the other departing leaders, no doubt) President Trump used his Twitter account to send a message to the leader of North Korea. “While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello.”

Trump informed reporters he had come up with the idea that morning and simply wanted to test the waters. Proving beyond question that his unusual approach to diplomacy can sometimes have beneficial effects – although skeptical observers strongly believe the entire event was orchestrated in advance – he then became the first sitting president in the history of his nation to cross the Korean border at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), shake Kim Jong-Un’s hand and agree to the resumption of negotiations on North Korean nuclear disarmament.

Dr. Theo Benien

Chancellor Angela Merkel still commands the attention of world leaders. (Photo: Bundesregierung)

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