New Delhi: Foreign ministers from across the globe have flown into the Indian capital to attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, where the Ukraine conflict is likely to dominate discussions and a joint communiqué is “unlikely” to be drawn up.
On Thursday morning, delegates including Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, China’s Qin Gang and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will gather at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre to attend the first session of discussions. The session will focus on multilateralism reforms, food and energy security and development cooperation.
The second session will take place in the afternoon, focussing on counter-terrorism, skill mapping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar is expected to hold bilateral talks with several counterparts, including Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang, to discuss the India-China border issue.
According to reports, a Quad ministerial meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines. The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is an informal strategic forum of four countries — India, the US, Japan and Australia.
Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will reportedly be at the Quad meeting, although he has decided to skip the G20 event to attend a key parliamentary budget committee in Japan. Deputy Foreign Minister Kenji Yamada will instead be attending the G20 meet in Delhi.
“We understand that the Japanese foreign minister is perhaps not able to come because of domestic compulsions,” said Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra in a media briefing Wednesday.
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Doubt over joint communique
Experts ThePrint spoke to expressed doubt over whether the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting would result in a joint communiqué, recalling the events of last week’s finance ministers’ meet in Bengaluru as well as the foreign ministers’ meet in Bali last year.
No joint communique was issued after the finance ministers’ meeting last week following opposition by Russia and China over reference to the Ukraine crisis.
The last foreign ministers’ meeting that took place in Bali in July 2022 — five months after the start of the war in Ukraine — was marked by high tensions between the West and Moscow, and a walkout by Russia’s top diplomat.
Speaking to ThePrint, former Indian ambassador to China Ashok Kantha said,“I don’t expect a walkout, like we saw from the Russian delegation in Bali last year, but it’s clear that Russia and China are willing to stand out and be isolated.”
He predicted that discussions on the outcome document of the G20 meeting “won’t go over smoothly”.
At a press conference Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Kwatra did not confirm whether or not a joint communiqué would be issued, adding that he could not “prejudge” the outcome of discussions.
According to former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, it is “rather unlikely” that there will be a joint communiqué after this week’s meet, and India will face difficulties in drawing up its chair summary.
“In its chair summary, India will have the difficult task of choosing the right language — either wholly or partly based on the G20 Bali [Leader’s] Declaration — which will be acceptable to the West and Russia,” he told ThePrint.
In its chair summary last week, India noted that paragraphs 3 and 4 of the document — which condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — “were agreed to by all member countries except Russia and China”.
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)
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