- The latest developments:
- India concludes the 2023 G20 summit and hands over the bloc’s presidency to Brazil
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls for a virtual meeting of G20 leaders in November
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said members of the Global South helped prevent Ukraine from overshadowing the G20 agenda.
- Lavrov says Russia will return to the Black Sea agreement if the conditions are met
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The G20 summit concluded in New Delhi on Sunday, with India handing over the presidency of the group to Brazil, while both the United States and Russia praised the consensus that did not condemn Moscow over the war in Ukraine, but called for it. Members to avoid the use of force.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the group’s leaders to hold a virtual meeting in November to review progress on the policy proposals and goals announced over the weekend.
“It is our responsibility to consider the suggestions that have been made to see how progress can be accelerated,” he said in a statement.
On Saturday, the group adopted a leaders’ declaration that avoided condemning Russia over the war but highlighted the human suffering caused by the conflict and called on all countries not to use force to seize territory.
The consensus came as a surprise. In the weeks leading up to the summit, sharply differing views on the war threatened to derail the meeting, with Western member states calling on Moscow to invade and Russia saying it would block any resolution that did not reflect its position.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, head of the Russian delegation, said that the summit was a success for India as well as for the Global South, that is, the developing countries of the world.
He told a news conference that the Global South’s position in the talks helped prevent Ukraine from overshadowing the G20 agenda. “India has already united G20 members from the Global South.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the summit declaration “does a very good job of defending the principle that states may not use force to seek to seize territory or violate the territorial integrity, sovereignty, or political independence of other states.”
Germany and Britain also praised the decision, but Ukraine said it was “nothing to be proud of.”
He walked barefoot
The summit also recognized the African Union, which has 55 member states, as a permanent member of the G20, confirming the bloc’s representation of the global South.
Lavrov also said that Russia would return to the Black Sea agreement that allows Ukraine to export grains if Russia’s demands are met. Moscow withdrew from the deal in July over what it said was the failure to meet its demands for a parallel pact loosening rules for its food and fertilizer exports.
The summit document called for the safe flow of grains, food and fertilizers from both Ukraine and Russia.
The leaders, including US President Joe Biden, German Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, visited the memorial of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi on Sunday.
Most of the leaders were barefoot as they walked to the site where Gandhi’s body was cremated after his assassination in 1948 by a Hindu extremist.
Biden later left for Vietnam, missing the final session of the summit. The White House said that it was not aware of any talks with Lavrov or Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang, who headed their country’s delegations at the summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin were absent from the summit.
“This was one of the most difficult G20 summits in the forum’s almost twenty-year history… It took almost 20 days to agree on the declaration before the summit and five days here immediately,” said Svetlana Lukash, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. The Russian Interfax news agency quoted the G20 government negotiator as saying.
“This was not only due to some differences on the subject of Ukraine, but also because of different positions on all major issues, foremost of which are the issues of climate change and the transition to low-carbon energy systems…”
An EU official, who requested anonymity, said on Sunday that the war in Ukraine was the most contentious issue in the negotiations.
“Without India’s leadership, this would not have been possible,” the official said, adding that Brazil and South Africa also played a crucial role in narrowing differences.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has left tens of thousands dead, displaced millions, and sowed economic turmoil around the world. Moscow, which says it is carrying out a “special military operation” there, denies committing any atrocities.
Additional reporting by Krishn Kaushik. Writing by Sanjeev Miglani and Raju Gopalakrishnan. Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Kim Coghill
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