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G-20 summit Osaka

G-20 summit to begin in Osaka amid rising US-China tensions

Increased focus on bilateral meetings overshadows multilateral framework

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on Saturday. 

OSAKA -- A two-day summit of leaders of the world's wealthy and developing nations will kick off in Osaka on Friday. But much of the focus at the G-20 gathering is likely to be on bilateral meetings taking place on its margins, especially the one between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Trump and Xi are expected on Saturday to discuss ways to ease their lingering trade war, which is slowly putting pressure on the global economy.

On Wednesday, Trump again threatened the impostion of additional tariffs if a trade deal was not made with China. In an interview with FOX Business, he said: "You have another $325 billion that I haven't taxed yet -- it's ripe for taxing -- for putting tariffs on."

This will be their first meeting since U.S.-China trade talks collapsed in May. Despite Trump continuing to make threats via Twitter, both sides are willing to restart the stalled negotiations.

"We always stand for resolving the trade friction through dialogue and consultation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Wednesday. "A trade war with additional tariffs will harm others as well as oneself and won't help solve any problem."

Other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are in Osaka to attend the 14th Group of 20 summit at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

India and the U.S. are also involved in rows over tariffs and geopolitics, with Washington ending preferential duty-free entry of Indian exports on June 5, and New Delhi slapping retaliatory levies 11 days later. The U.S. has also pressed New Delhi not to purchase S-400 missile air defense systems from Russia.

Trump is expected to meet Modi, who was last month re-elected as India's Prime Minister, to discuss ways to resolve these issues.

He is also scheduled to hold a trilateral summit with Modi and Abe on Friday. Following the first one which took place in November during the last G-20 summit in Argentina, analysts say the three leaders could discuss ways to cement their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to offset China's expanding influence.

But another trilateral gathering -- of Xi, Modi and Putin -- is also planned on the sidelines of the Osaka summit, which may result in a pledge by the three leaders to uphold multilateralism and oppose protectionism, taking aim at Trump's key 'America First' trade policy.

Established in 1999, the G-20 was elevated in 2008 from a forum of finance ministers and central bank governors to one of heads of state and government in order to effectively respond to the global financial crisis. However, in recent years, the focus has shifted more to bilateral and plurilateral meetings than to the summit itself.

The G-20 represents around 85% of global gross domestic product, more than 75% of world trade and two-thirds of its population.

Japan, the host of the summit, aims to obtain consensus on pushing forward reform of the World Trade Organization and setting the rules for the transfer of data, among other issues.

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