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G20 summit: The highlights

Riot police use water cannon during the “Welcome to Hell” rally against the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany on July 6, 2017.  AFP PHOTO

Hamburg, Germany | AFP | US President Donald Trump’s first G20 summit wrapped up Saturday in Germany, marked by violent clashes outside and political discord inside.

Here follows a summary of the main news from the two-day meeting of the leaders of the world’s 19 top economies and the European Union in Hamburg.

– Trump-Putin, round one –

The most eagerly awaited meeting was Trump’s first face-to-face encounter with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday lasting two and a quarter hours.

On Saturday Trump described the meeting as “tremendous”.

Putin said that Trump is “very different” than on television and that Washington appears to have become “more pragmatic” on the Syrian conflict, in which the US and Russia back opposing sides.

“There is every reason to believe that we will be able to at least partially re-establish the level of cooperation that we need,” Putin said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the two “connected very quickly” with “very clear positive chemistry”.

Commentators pored over the images for telltale signs of who came out on top.

“Look at Putin’s thumb. He is controlling the situation, setting its tone,” Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda said.

According to Tillerson, the subject that took up most time was Syria but they also had a “robust and lengthy exchange” about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Putin said that Trump had accepted his denials.

– ‘Smash the G20!’ –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to hold the summit in Hamburg, a port city once home to The Beatles and renowned as a hotbed of anarchism, quickly looked unwise.

The 20,000 police on duty struggled to cope in running battles with hundreds of anti-capitalist demonstrators torching cars, smashing windows and throwing objects.

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