New Delhi: Amid tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine, India is set to host US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20 foreign ministers’ meet in New Delhi on 1 and 2 March.
While the visits are for a multilateral forum, the timing becomes significant since the meeting comes just days after the anniversary of the Russian war against Ukraine on 24 February.
Diplomatic sources the ThePrint spoke to refused to state whether any bilateral meeting is planned between the two leaders. Sources indicated that the two are unlikely to meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit that India is hosting.
Both Blinken and Lavrov will hold bilateral talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Announcing Lavrov’s visit, the Russian foreign ministry had on 23 February said in a statement that G20 is a “key forum for global governance”.
It added that the demand for diplomatic dialogue through the G20 has increased against the backdrop of “progressive confrontation in international relations, growing risks for the global economy, and de facto bullying by western political regimes”.
The US State Department Friday announced Blinken’s visit and stated he would travel to India on 1 March for the G20 meet, which will focus on strengthening multilateralism and deepening cooperation on food and energy security, sustainable development, counter-narcotics, global health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and gender equality and women empowerment.
The State Department added that Blinken would meet with Indian government officials and civil society “to reaffirm our strong partnership”.
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The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.
It was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors to discuss global economic and financial issues.
India’s presidency of the G20 began on 1 December, 2022, and will end on 30 November, 2023.
India’s special invitee guest countries for the G20 summit here this year are Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE. India is hosting G20 meetings in several cities across the country.
PM Modi had earlier said that India was taking charge of the G20 at a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices, and the long-term ill effects of the Covid pandemic.
At this time “the world is looking at the G20 with hope”, he had said.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
Also read: G20 presidency puts Modi’s India in global spotlight. Expectations are already high