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President Trump outside the White House, before departing for the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 29, 2018. Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

President Trump is flying to Argentina today for the G20 Summit, and, after he canceled a meeting with Russian President Putin and downgraded another with Turkish President Erdogan, it's already off to a rocky start.

What to watch: The summit will be fraught with strategic problems. On Trump's plate will be questions about European security in the face of Russian military aggression; America’s Middle East plans now that Saudi Arabia is becoming an international pariah and the Senate has moved to reject the administration's support for the Yemen war; U.S. plans to disregard international asylum standards along the Mexican border; and rising global concerns about climate change.

Here are the top issues Trump will confront in meetings with foreign leaders:

  • Japan’s Abe: Devising a workable plan for ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions. North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear and missile programs in secret, despite assurances to the contrary made by Kim Jong-un to President Trump. With a key stake, Japan is taking a hard position, one that will create concerns for South Korea’s Moon, who is taking a more amicable approach.
  • China’s Xi: Deciding whether to end the jointly destructive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in goods. Markets have been shaky and Trump’s political base is feeling blowback from his tariffs policy, opening the door to deal-making. An agreement to pause new tariffs while conducting negotiations to resolve the trade conflict would be a practical way forward.
  • Turkey’s Erdogan: Discussing strategies to resolve the Syrian war and prevent the re-emergence of ISIS. The U.S. now controls nearly one-third of Syria, but ISIS is not fully extinguished. Cooperation with Turkey, Syria’s northern neighbor, is crucial to negotiating an end to the conflict. But Turkey still presents challenges to Trump’s Iran and Gulf policies. And Trump may be fearful of offending Saudi Arabia by meeting formally with Erdogan and not with Muhammad bin Salman, so he isn't.

With the canceled Putin meeting, nuclear insecurity will now become a greater concern as both the U.S. and Russia put off renewing their treaty commitments.

The bottom line: The G20 Summit will highlight many of the most intractable problems the U.S. faces abroad. Trump will need to redouble his engagement with the international community in order to resolve ongoing nuclear uncertainties, economic clashes and military quagmires.

Joel Rubin is the president of the Washington Strategy Group and the former deputy assistant secretary of state for the House of Representatives.

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 6 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."