World

US leader Donald Trump an isolated figure on world stage

'America first' more like 'America alone' during Trump's G-20 trip to Europe

WASHINGTON During a difficult visit to Europe, US President Donald Trump appeared out of sync with traditional allies, struggling to show that unorthodox strategies towards rival powers Russia and China can deliver results.

At one point during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanged a knowing glance as Mr Trump veered off on another tangent.

What were to be remarks about women entrepreneurs had become a Trumpian soliloquy on his daughter Ivanka's merits and his paternal failings.

"If she weren't my daughter, it would be so much easier for her," Mr Trump said. "It might be the only bad thing going for her."

A few feet away, nervy laughs from Mr Trudeau and Ms Merkel seemed to indicate that Mr Trump's political peers are still unsure how to take the 71-year-old.

Throughout the meeting, there was a sense that Mr Trump, leader of the so-called "indispensable nation", has shifted positions.

In Warsaw, the first stop of his four-day trip, Mr Trump sought to reassert his claim to lead the free world.

"It is no accident that he gave this speech to a country with an ultra-conservative and Eurosceptic government," said Mr Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution.

"The great risk," Mr Wright added, is that Mr Trump's remarks "begin dividing Europe into old and new - or those who don't like him and his message and those who do".

To get 20 of your friends to agree where to have dinner together tonight is really hard. Mr Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn, denying US isolation in the G-20’s climate change fight

Later at the G-20 in Hamburg, Mr Trump appeared even more clearly outside the policy mainstream.

The artful drafting of a joint communique saw world leaders banding together without the US. In the fight against climate change, it was 19 in favour and a lone Mr Trump against.

"To get 20 of your friends to agree where to have dinner together tonight is really hard," said top Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn, denying US isolation.

VEXED

Mr Trump's efforts to reset relations with global rivals were equally vexed.

During a historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump effectively agreed to put Russia's election interference last year in the past - a major concession to Moscow.

But that bought few tangible benefits beyond a possible ceasefire agreement for southern Syria.

Officials are hopeful the measure, effective from noon yesterday, can stem the bloodletting and open the door for a broader cooling of the vicious six-year civil war - but such ceasefires have come and gone many times before.

For months, negotiators in Amman, Jordan, had been searching for something much more durable: a safe zone, enforced by troops, which would secure Jordan's border and allow the regime's opponents their own territory. That prospect still seems distant.

With his ideological hardline and diplomacy failing to live up to his "winning" rhetoric, Mr Trump's second foreign visit left "America first" at risk of becoming "America alone". - AFP

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