Buenos Aires earthquake: Quake hits near Argentina capital as world leaders attend G20 summit

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 30 November 2018 23:57
World leaders arrive for G20 summit in Buenos Aires

An earthquake has struck near Buenos Aires as world leaders including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Theresa May gathered in Argentina's capital for the G20 summit.

The 3.8-magnitude quake struck 33km south of the city, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, where a number of those present at the gathering reported hearing a rumbling sound before seeing "the chandeliers sway slightly".

"I was sitting next to [Voice of America reporter William Gallo] in the @WhiteHouse press filing centre here in Buenos Aires and we heard this rumble and saw the chandeliers sway slightly. I assured him that as a veteran of many seismic events this was not an #earthquake. Wrong," tweeted Steve Herman, the White House bureau chief for Voice of America, after the quake hit.

The US Geological Survey website indicates that the earthquake hit at approximately 1.27pm GMT, and had a depth of 10km.

The earthquake came on the same day that the international G20 summit kicked off, with leaders from across the globe congregating in Buenos Aires for what has been seen as a critical meeting with major implications for international trade and diplomacy.

Among the discussions and agreements taking place are some key issues focused on by Mr Trump, who signed a revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) on Friday morning alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — who negotiated the changes with the US in the final months of his presidency, which ends on Saturday.

Mr Trump is also expected to sit down for a dinner meting with Chinese President Xi Jinping with the hopes of negotiating a trade agreement after months in which the two countries have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of imports between them. Mr Trump has suggested that failed talks in Argentina could result in further tariffs, which the American president has justified by saying that China has been taking advantage of lax American import rules. The Chinese hope to dissuade the US government from boosting tariffs on over $200 billion in goods to 25 per cent in January, from 10 per cent currently imposed.

"We hope the U.S. can show sincerity and meet China half way, to promote a proposal that both countries can accept," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing in Beijing.

A shadow has also been cast on the G20 summit by the killing last month of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. The CIA has said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing, which the Saudi government has disputed. Ms May reportedly plans on confronting the crown prince over the killing, and has said that she wishes to see "those responsible being held to account".

“I am intending to speak with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The message that I give will be very clear ... on this issue of Jamal Khashoggi but also on the issue of Yemen,” Ms May told reporters before her plane touched down in Buenos Aires. “[On Khashoggi’s killing] we want to see a full and transparent investigation in relation to what happened and obviously those responsible being held to account".

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She continued: "On the issue of Yemen we continue to be deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation. The long-term solution for the Yemen is a political situation and we will be encouraging all parties actually to look for that and work for that".

Ms May is also confronting the difficult task of shoring up international trade support for the UK. She is seeking to convince world leaders that her government’s negotiations to leave the European Union has yielded a good Brexit deal.

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