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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

G20 foreign ministers to discuss war in Ukraine and US-China relations

Foreign ministers from the world’s 40 largest economies will meet in New Delhi this week amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the United States and China. India, host of the G20 summit this year, hopes issues such as climate change and rising Third World debt will also not be overlooked.

The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, which will take place from March 1-2, will come days after the bloc’s finance chiefs’ meeting in Bangalore, where finance ministers and central bankers failed to reach to a consensus on a unanimous condemnation of the aggression and, therefore, did not sign a joint declaration on this issue, limiting itself to a declaration in which disagreements between the participants in the meeting were noted.

A similar situation occurred during the G20 summit, which took place last November in Bali, Indonesia, when the host country also issued a final declaration acknowledging the differences.

Last July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked out of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, also held in Bali, after Western powers strongly condemned the war.

The meeting in New Delhi will bring together Mr. Lavrov, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. In total, the event will bring together representatives from 40 countries, including non-G20 countries invited by India and international organizations.

The G20 includes wealthy G7 democracies and other major world economies, including Russia, China, India, Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

A meeting of the foreign ministers of the Quartet countries – the United States, India, Australia and Japan is also scheduled on the sidelines.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wants to focus this week’s meeting on issues such as climate change and developing country debt, said an Indian Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity. because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

India does not want the Ukraine issue to dominate the event, but it will be the first item on the agenda, the official said. He added that New Delhi “will continue to be the voice of the Global South and raise issues relevant to the region.”

Blinken will speak about US efforts to address food and energy security issues affecting developing countries, said Ramin Tolui, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

The top US diplomat will also “highlight the damage caused by Russia’s war of aggression” and urge other countries to redouble their calls for Moscow to end the war, Tolui told reporters ahead of Blinken’s trip to the meeting.

The meeting of foreign ministers will also be closely watched due to tensions between Washington and Beijing, particularly over the war in Ukraine.

China, along with Russia, refused to sign a consolidated statement of heads of financial departments in Bangalore.

On Monday, China accused the United States of “threats” to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait after a US P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flew over the strait.

This month, relations between the world’s two biggest economies soured after the US military shot down what they say is a Chinese spy balloon flying over the United States. China says the balloon was a civilian research vessel that accidentally veered off course and called the US response “excessive”.

This prompted Blinken to postpone his planned visit to Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the US response to the balloon incident “unimaginable” and “hysterical”.

New Delhi seeks to maintain a neutral line regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war.

While Modi had previously told Russian President Vladimir Putin that now was not the time for war, India has refused to blame Moscow for the conflict, seeking a diplomatic solution and dramatically increasing its purchases of Russian oil.

Disagreements over the conflict will be revisited at a meeting this week, said Anil Wadhwa, a former Indian diplomat and member of the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi.

“It is unlikely that the G20 foreign ministers will be able to agree on a common language proposing ways and mechanisms to resolve the situation in Ukraine,” he said. “There are many reasons, but the most important issue is that the situation in Ukraine has become extremely unstable.”

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