G20 members struggle for consensus on Ukraine as India gears up for summit

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Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies began arriving in New Delhi on Friday for their annual gathering as negotiators struggled to bridge differences over the war in Ukraine, seeking to build consensus for a successful summit host India wants.

Slums, monkeys and stray dogs have been removed from the streets of the Indian capital and businesses, offices and schools were closed in the central business and government district as part of security measures to ensure the two-day summit runs smoothly.

But the gathering risks being derailed by deeper and more entrenched divisions over Russia’s war, hurting progress on issues such as food security, debt distress and cooperation on climate change.

It is also expected to be dominated by the West and its allies. Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the meeting and sending Premier Li Qiang instead, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin will also be absent.

The summit will still be the most high-powered gathering ever in India with U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, among others, confirming participation.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “call out” Russia over its invasion and use its clout to help end the war, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The hardened stance on the war has prevented agreement on even a single communique at the ministerial meetings during India’s G20 presidency so far this year, leaving it to the leaders to find a way around, if possible.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is in New Delhi ahead of Biden’s arrival on Friday, said Washington is willing to work with India to help craft a communique at the end of the summit but it would be a challenge. The most important thing that can be done to support global economic growth is for Russia to end its brutal war in Ukraine, she said.

The IMF has forecast lower growth for most G20 nations this year than in 2022.

European Council President Charles Michel echoed that view. It is difficult to predict whether leaders will reach a consensus on a declaration but the EU will support efforts made by India for a final communique, Michel told reporters in New Delhi. Michel said Moscow is violating the UN charter and must stop attacking Ukrainian cities. G20 sherpas or negotiators have made progress on most issues but the main point sticking point is the language in the leaders’ declaration on the war, four Indian government sources told Reuters.

Western countries want a strong condemnation of the invasion as a condition for agreeing to a Delhi declaration. India has suggested that the G20, while condemning the suffering caused by Russia’s invasion, also reflect Moscow and Beijing’s view that the forum is not the place for geopolitics.

In addition, there is some disagreement on climate change cooperation, the sherpas added.

The group has been divided on commitments to phasing down fossil fuel use, increasing renewable energy targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Modi’s government is projecting India’s presidency of the group and the summit as a showcase for the country’s fast-growing economy and its rising position in the geo-political pecking order.

Leaders from the Group of 20 (G20) major economies kick off an annual summit meeting on Saturday to coordinate policy on food security, debt problems of vulnerable countries and climate action. Here is a list of those attending and some key leaders who are skipping the meeting in the Indian capital, New Delhi.

G20 LEADERS:

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

French President Emmanuel Macron

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

U.S. President Joe Biden

European Union: President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council, Charles Michel

SPECIAL INVITEES:

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu

Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik al-Said

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed

 

OTHERS ATTENDING:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

The heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Financial Stability Board and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

NOTABLE MISSING GUESTS:

Chinese President Xi Jinping (represented by Premier Li Qiang)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Russian President Vladimir Putin (represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov)

 

(With inputs from Reuters, officials and news agencies)

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