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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ukraine shadow looms over G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting


Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on Wednesday declined to say whether a joint statement would be issued at the end of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow, even as Western leaders and Russia issued strong statements on the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

“It would not be correct to prejudge the outcome of the meeting,” Kwatra said at a special briefing here on whether a joint statement could be expected.

His comments come in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict overshadowing the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Bengaluru last week that prevented a joint communique from being issued. With Russia and China objecting to the use of the word “war” to describe the dragging conflict, the Finance Ministers’ session saw a Chair’s Statement and an Outcome Document issued.

Kwatra also said the Ukraine conflict is expected to be in focus at the meetings.

“Clearly the foreign ministers would also focus on ongoing situation in the Russian-Ukraine conflict, but what is it they come out with, and clearly among members what is the understanding they develop, not just on the conflict, but on the impact of the conflict on the rest of the world, the economic impact, the challenges that developing countries face, are equally important to focus on; I don’t think it would be correct to prejudge the outcome of the meeting; let the foreign ministers decide that on their own; but we are very clear that the foreign ministers should focus on all the priorities that are very relevant in the global context,” he said.

Kwatra also reiterated India’s position on the Ukraine issue, including PM Modi’s statement at Samarkand at the SCO summit where he had said that this is not the era of war. “…and right from the start of the Ukraine conflict in February last year, the PM has in his conversations with the global leadership and with those of Russia and Ukraine, clearly stated that dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward. Converge these three, and you see what came about in the Bali declaration.”

“What the foreign ministers would discuss tomorrow and whether it would be to the exclusion of the other agenda items, is for the foreign ministers to discuss and decide,” Kwatra added, to persistent queries.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his tour of the Central Asian countries ahead of his arrival in the Indian capital, warned them about the dangers of the Ukraine conflict in their neighbourhood.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is expected to “continue to call Russia out at the G20 and work with partners to mitigate the global impacts of Russian aggression in Ukraine”

The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement said, as FM Sergey Lavrov landed in India, that “During the regular foreign ministers’ meeting we intend to firmly and openly talk about the reasons and instigators of the current serious problems in world politics and the global economy.

“We will focus on the attempts by the West to take revenge for the inevitable disappearance of the levers of dominance from its hands. We will also concentrate on its striving to continue receiving unilateral rent, in part, through unequal trade and violent interference in the affairs of sovereign states.”

Meanwhile, clarifying the language of the Outcome Document issued at the end of the Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Bengaluru, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said:

“There was a text tabled at the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, which was a Chair’s Statement and Outcome Document, on the issue of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, we tabled paras 3 and 4 which is a reproduction of the text from the Bali Leaders’ declaration.

“Two countries, Russia and China, did not agree to that; you need to ask them about why exactly, on their perspectives, or do they no longer, are they no longer with the text from Bali. You have to ask them; and this is not a speculative response. And we will see how it goes forward…

“It is a repetition from the Bali declaration, and obviously we stand by the declaration, it was our PM who was there, our constructive role was appreciated in that, there is no question of not agreeing to that text, we are with that text, and if two countries, in this case Russia and China have reservations about the text, you need to ask them.

“And arguing that that has now made a change in our position is not accurate, because in the Bali declaration we signed up, to all the paras of the Bali declaration are there as the agreed text, and now as the text we have presented (as the Outcome Document).”

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