Fallout from Syria looms large as G20 leaders meet on global economy

Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:43am EST
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By Nick Tattersall and Matt Spetalnick

ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Syria's war, migration and the fight against terrorism will force their way onto the agenda when world leaders meet this weekend in Turkey, a country straddling Europe and the Middle East and struggling with the fallout from all three.

Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies (G20), including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia and Brazil, are to meet on Sunday and Monday in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya primarily to discuss global economic issues.

But the summit takes place just 500 km (310 miles) from Syria, whose four-and-a-half year conflict has seen Islamic State militants transform into a global security threat and spawned Europe's largest migration flows since World War Two.

While the talks will largely focus on economic challenges such as boosting global growth, the fallout of expected U.S. rate hikes, and China's rebalancing, the leaders will also discuss the fight against terrorism and the refugee crisis.

Several officials said it was only the second time that the G20, founded in 1999 to promote global financial stability, would formally tackle issues outside its core remit of coordinating international economic policy.

"As the G20 leaders gather in Turkey this weekend, they will have on their minds heartbreaking images of displaced people fleeing countries gripped by armed conflict and economic distress," Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in a blog ahead of the summit.

"Migration is a global issue. We must all work together to address it," she wrote.

But with so many divergent agendas it remains to be seen whether the G20 will be able to shed its "talking shop" image. The EU expects a battle to have migration even recognized as global issue with some states, including Russia and China, reluctant to discuss it at the summit.   Continued...

Smoke rises after what activists said was shelling by the forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Old Aleppo's Kadi Askar area, Syria, August 1, 2015. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail