Russia’s war on Ukraine cast a shadow over the G20 foreign ministers meeting in the Indian capital, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (March 2) urged member countries not to let polarising issues foil a consensus on less divisive matters.
Modi’s recorded speech was played before the start of day-long deliberations of the foreign ministers which was followed by sessions on topics ranging from multilateralism to food and energy security as well as counter-terrorism.
The Indian leader said the G20 could deliver concrete results on challenges confronting growth, development, economic resilience, disaster resilience, financial stability, trans-national crime, corruption, terrorism, as well as food and energy security.
Noting that it was natural that discussions “are affected by the geopolitical tensions of the day”, the prime minister made an impassioned appeal: “We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can.”
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“We all have our positions and our perspectives on how these tensions should be resolved,” he added. “However, as the leading economies of the world, we also have a responsibility towards those who are not in this room,” he said.
The Indian side is aware that a lack of a common stand on Ukraine could derail a joint statement after the foreign ministers end their meet – as it happened after the meeting in Bengaluru of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.
Russia and China explicitly disassociated themselves from the two paragraphs related to Ukraine in Bengaluru.
There has been no meeting thus far in New Delhi between US secretary of state Anthony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who were separated by five seats at the venue at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
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US and China
It is also not clear if Blinken will meet Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang.
While the G7 countries have announced they won’t boycott or walk out when the Russian foreign minister speaks, they have made it clear that they won’t take a ‘family photo’ at the meet.
The G20 represents 19 countries and the European Union, representing 85 per cent of the global economy and two-thirds of the world population.