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Americas

Macron visits Argentina ahead of tense G20 summit

media French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte arrive in Buenos Aires Fuente: Reuters.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against this week's G20 summit turning into a China-US confrontation as he visits Argentina ahead of the international meeting.

"Surprise me!" was reportedly Macron's reply when his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, asked what he would like to see on his first visit to a South American country.

But the French leader must be hoping there will be no unpleasant surprises from his US counterpart during the summit in Buenos Aires on Friday or Saturday.

In an interview with the Argentine paper La Nacion, Macron warned against "the danger of a tête-à-tête between China and the US and of a trade war that would be destructive for all concerned".

China-US trade war

With US President Donald Trump waging a trade war on Beijing and threatening to slap tariffs on European cars, Macron also saw a danger of the disintegration of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), "which, in spite of its faults, is the largest platform for the regulation of world trade".

Some of the US's recent decisions have been made "to the detriment of its allies' interests", he commented.

Macron is due to meet China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin at the summit but not Trump.

The pair had a good relationship when they were first elected but while in France on Armistice Day Trump sent out a number of tweets criticising Macron's plan for a European army and mocking his poor opinion poll ratings.

Culture and politics in Argentina

Macri's response to Macron's appeal to be surprised was to organise a trip by helicopter to lunch in the delta of the River Parana.

The French president, a keen reader, has also asked to visit the widow of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, Maria Kodama, who will show him round the Fondacion Borges, and meet young writers at the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop, housed in what was once a theatre.

On the political front, he will visit the Plaza de Mayo, where the mothers of missing dissidents used to demonstrate during the years of dictatorship, and throw a bouquet of roses into the Rio de la Plata, where thousands of political prisoners were thrown alive from air force planes.

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