G20 leaders to discuss terrorist threat in wake of Paris attacks

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This weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris were expected to cast a long shadow Sunday as the heads of the Group of 20 leading world economies began to arrive in the Turkish resort city of Antalya for a two-day summit.

On Friday, eight nearly simultaneous attacks took place on a concert hall, bars and restaurants and a national sports stadium in Paris, leaving at least 129 dead and another 352 injured. The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility.

“We will demand that world leaders meeting in the G20 in Antalya respond to the threat of extremist terrorism,” EU President Donald Tusk wrote to French President Francois Hollande.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is hosting the G20 summit, had already placed terrorism on the agenda. His country experienced its worst attack in modern history last month, when suicide bombers attacked a rally in Ankara, killing about 100.

Erdogan said his country knows “all too well about terrorism and we think and feel the same for the attacks in Paris,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday.

Hollande cancelled his attendance in Antalya. The country will be represented by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

Ahead of the summit, Erdogan was due for talks with US President Barack Obama, who landed in the Turkish seaside resort early Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to begin his day at a meeting with his counterparts from Brazil, India, China and South Africa – the so-called BRICS group. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to arrive for the summit start at midday (1000 GMT).

The G20 leaders are also due to address the migration crisis during dinner on Sunday, with discussions also expected on the conflict in Syria, one of the sparks that has prompted so many to flee towards Europe.

Turkey, which neighbours Syria, has a key role in both issues. The country has welcomed 2.2 million Syrian refugees, but is also an important transit route for those travelling west.

The European Union, which is contending with its largest movement of people since World War II, is seeking Ankara’s help in curbing the flow. More than 800,000 migrants and asylum seekers are estimated to have reached Europe’s shores this year.

The Antalya summit comes amid a renewed diplomatic push to resolve Syria’s bloody conflict, which started with peaceful protests in March 2011.

Top diplomats from the United States, Russia and other key regional and international powers agreed Saturday on a road map for a political transition in Syria, during talks in Vienna.

Under the UN-led process, representatives from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition fighting to oust him should meet by the end of the year, with the aim of setting up a transitional government within six months and holding elections within 18 months.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged on Saturday that the plan “sounds utopian,” but said the international community was more determined than ever to resolve the conflict that has cost the lives of more than 250,000 people.

The G20 is predominantly an economic forum, set up in response to the global financial crisis.

It comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The Turkish G20 presidency has set an economic growth agenda focused on inclusiveness – ensuring that all segments of society benefit from prosperity; implementation – enacting previously agreed targets; and investment into the economy.

The summit is also being used as a stepping stone to global climate talks taking place in Paris later this year, with leaders expected to discuss their ambitions for a new deal aimed at curbing greenhouse emissions.

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