July 7, 2017 / 3:58 PM / in 18 days

Officials thrashing out G20 communique face long night: Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017.Kay Nietfeld,Pool

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Nearly all G20 leaders agreed on Friday on the need for free and fair trade, but some differences of opinion mean officials drafting the summit's final communique still had a long night's work ahead, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Merkel was speaking at the end of the first day of the G20's Hamburg summit, where U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist instincts and opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement risked isolating him in a forum set up to improve global policy coordination after the 2007 financial crisis.

"On the issue of trade, virtually everyone believes we need free but also fair trade," she said. "However, I can predict that as far as trade is concerned in the communique, the sherpas have a lot of work ahead of them tonight."

Discussions remained fraught on trade. "I hope they can bring us a good result tonight. But here the discussions are very difficult, I don't want to talk around that," she said.

Merkel added that Trump had attended the first part of the leaders' discussion on climate policy, despite his differences from other states in this area, even taking the floor.

Reporting By Thomas Escritt and Paul Carrel

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