However, Merkel's plans were disrupted by technical troubles that forced her official plane to make an emergency landing in Germany, and a spokeswoman told AFP that she would miss Friday's opening of the summit.
But U.S. officials including Kudlow have also repeatedly said in recent weeks that any agreement to fully resolve trade differences between the U.S. and China would likely take months of hard negotiations to reach.
People holding flowers and an orchestra met Xi upon his landing in the Argentinian capital.
Shares of Apple and some of its suppliers were sagging on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said he might include iPhones and other high-volume consumer electronics products in the potential next wave of tariffs on imports from China. If the US went ahead with auto duties and its trading partners responded in kind, it would take as much as three quarters of a percentage point off of global output, which International Monetary Fund economists now expect to grow 3.7 per cent next year.
Media captionSo how does a G20 summit work? But the divisions on the final communique have only highlighted how fractured the grouping has become on key global issues.
"The world hopes G-20 members can remain cohesive and proactive, hold open, in-depth and constructive dialogue, and inject new impetus to global economic and trade growth", said Mr Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Wall Street edged lower on Thursday amid jitters over Trump's meeting with Xi.
This weekend shapes up as a critical moment in the simmering trade conflict between the United States and China, one that could shape the paths of not just those two economies - the world's two largest - but the global economy and financial markets. Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, this week also told reporters that Trump needed Xi to offer more at his meeting for a breakthrough.
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In a tweet on Thursday, however, Trump said, "Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the United States of America because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go".
The goal of the meeting will be to try to find some compromise in the stand-off over Trump's imposition of 10 per cent tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports. The EU and Japan, in particular, have also drawn promises from Trump that he would not proceed with the auto tariffs as long as they are engaged in trade negotiations that are due to get underway in earnest early next year. The trilateral meet between India, the USA and Japan is an expansion of the bilateral talks between Trump and Abe.
"Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russian Federation, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin", he tweeted.
However, Trump told The Washington Post he was waiting for a report on the incident from his national security advisors before making up his mind over whether he would meet Putin. And he says he has no meeting planned with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It is the message we have consistently given on this issue of Jamal Khashoggi and the issue of Yemen.
President Ramaphosa will also chair a BRICS Leaders' Summit on the margins of the G20. Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder.
A bilateral meeting between Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron is also being worked out.