Migrants, Islamic State shoulder aside G-20 economic agenda

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2015 8:40 AM

Leaders from the world's largest industrial and emerging economies won't exactly ignore GDP when they meet Sunday and Monday, but the migration and terrorism have overshadowed the usual G-20 economic agenda at its gathering in Turkey — a country at the crossroads for both Islamic extremists and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war in their homelands.

Here's what's at stake:

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MIGRANTS: Turkey is home to more than 2 million Syrian refugees as well as people fleeing war in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. With few jobs and difficult living conditions in Turkey, many of the migrants want to head north to a better life in Germany, Sweden or other Western European country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with new leverage after a decisive election victory, wants a no-fly zone in Syria that would let refugees go home. He also wants money from the European Union and is pushing to renew talks on membership in the European bloc. Europe, meanwhile, is hoping for multinational agreement beyond its borders on how to cope with the unprecedented flow of people.

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TERRORISM: The Islamic State group is at the top of nearly everyone's hit list. The extremist organization is the target of U.S. and allied airstrikes, and a major security concern. The group claimed responsibility for a twin suicide bombing in Beirut on Thursday and is blamed for two similar bombings in Turkey — one in the Syrian border town of Suruc and in the capital Ankara — that killed about 130 people in July and October. A faction of the group has also claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 people on board. With thousands of foreign fighters in the ranks of jihadi groups — including as many as 7,000 from Russia and other former Soviet states alone — it's a major domestic concern for the world's most powerful countries.

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ECONOMY: The G-20 exists as a sort of workshop for the world's largest economies to maintain the engine of global growth. At the last meeting a year ago, the nations vowed to grow the world economy by about $2 trillion over five years. That plan now looks ambitious. An economic slowdown in China is having ripple effects around the world. It is hurting international trade and pinching countries like Australia, Indonesia and Chile that supply Chinese factories. The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast for worldwide growth this year to 3.1 percent, which would be the slowest since the recession year of 2009. Even the relatively strong showing in the U.S. has potentially worrisome undercurrents, as the Federal Reserve prepares to start raising interest rates, with uncertain consequences on the world's largest economy and global markets.