With sharp divisions between world leaders and protesters warning of violent demonstrations, Hamburg G20 summit starts today as one of the most turbulent Group of 20 summits. Thousands of protesters from around Europe were pouring into the port city to join big demonstrations later. Police expected around 100,000 protesters in Hamburg, some 8,000 of whom are deemed by security forces to be ready to commit violence.
This poses a challenge for those tasked with securing the July 7-8 summit of leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies, hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who face tough talks on divisive issues including trade and climate change.
Merkel took a big gamble in deciding to host the summit, where leaders will hold talks on difficult issues from trade and climate change to African development, in the city of her birth. Should the protests go awry, her reputation could be damaged less than three months before an election in which she is seeking a fourth term.
Locals are unhappy with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to hold the summit in the center of Germany's second-largest city as they fear property damage by violent protesters. Their daily routines are also being disrupted by security measures.
Up to 20,000 police officers have been on duty to watch over the main demonstration, dubbed "Welcome to Hell" by the alliance of anti-capitalist groups who organized it. Protesters have said they will try to block roads in the city.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, a meeting with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany offers a long-sought opportunity to negotiate a rapprochement with Washington. But controversy over the Trump campaign's ties with Russia will loom over the talks, making any agreements unlikely.
Rarely in recent history has a meeting of two heads of state generated so much excitement, anxiety and hope. The Kremlin views Friday's encounter as a watershed moment that could ease Russia-West tensions. Some in the U.S., meanwhile, worries that Trump could make unjustified concessions to Russia.
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