Bumpy beginning to Obama's China trip

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Photo / AP
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Photo / AP

If US President Barack Obama was hoping for a graceful start to his final trip to Asia as commander in chief, this wasn't it.

A confrontation between a White House aide and a Chinese official, and other diplomatic dust-ups were out in the open from the moment Air Force One landed in Hangzhou, site of the G20 economic summit.

The first sign of trouble: There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.

On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists travelling with Obama be prohibited from getting anywhere near him. When the White House official insisted the US would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back. "This is our country! This is our airport!" the Chinese official yelled.

Also, a Chinese official tried to keep Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, away from her boss.

Rice seemed less than amused by the incident when asked about it by a reporter. "They did things that weren't anticipated," she said.

Later, two Chinese officials - one working to assist the American delegation - had to be physically separated after trying to hit each other outside an event.

Obama yesterday turned attention to Isis (Islamic State), consulting the leaders of Turkey and Britain, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Theresa May. Obama had not met Erdogan since a coup attempt in July. Turkey has sent dozens of tanks into northern Syria.

Obama and President Xi Jinping announced they had committed their nations to a landmark climate deal brokered last year in Paris. The two, representing the world's two biggest carbon dioxide emitters, formally submitted documents marking their commitment. The move puts the deal closer to taking effect, potentially by year's end.

- AP

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