G20 Summit Opens In Bali With Ukraine War, Rising Inflation Top Agenda

Leaders of the World including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, have converged in Indonesia, for the 17th Group of 20 (G20) Summit, taking place in the city of Bali. The two-day summit starting Tuesday is themed “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” and focuses on global economic recovery, global health architecture, digital transformation, sustainable energy transition, and climate change, among other topics.

The G20 comprises 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the USA and the European Union (EU). These countries together account for over 80 percent of the global GDP, 75 percent of international trade, and two-thirds of the world population.

The Ukraine war and a global spike in inflation are expected to remain on top agendas during the summit, Indonesia’s president made a fresh appeal to the leaders of the world’s richest countries to unite at least on economic matters. “We hope the G20 summit can deliver concrete partnerships that can help the world in its economic recovery,” President Joko Widodo said after a bilateral meeting with Biden. PM Modi was welcomed at the summit venue by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, ahead of the formal opening.

“Recover Together, Recover Stronger. Indonesian President @jokowi welcomes PM @narendramodi for the G20 Bali Summit. Detailed deliberations on contemporary global challenges including food & energy security and health are on the @g20org Summit agenda today,” Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet.

India is set to take over the Group of 20 presidencies for one year after the meeting. ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’ was the theme picked by Indonesia when it took charge last year. But the Russia-Ukraine war that began in February now threatens food and fuel shortages.

The leaders will hold three working sessions – on food and energy security, digital transformations, and health. Modi is expected to participate in all three. On the sidelines of the summit, Modi has bilateral meetings on Wednesday with Indonesian President Widodo, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The list does not include Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom PM Modi has not met face-to-face since the Galwan Valley clash between the troops from both sides in 2020. There was no mention either of a separate meeting with Britain’s new prime minister Rishi Sunak.

A day before the summit, US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi met for three and a half hours in Bali, striking a conciliatory tone against the backdrop of a strain in their ties over self-ruled Taiwan. Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted out of the Bali summit and sent foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to represent the country.

But western leaders who seemed to be preparing for a possible showdown over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are unlikely to back down. Russia can expect flak, for instance, when the summit discusses ‘Food and Energy Security’.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Sunak made his intention clear before leaving London for the meeting. “This G20 Summit will not be business as usual,” he declared. There is also speculation over difficulties in drafting the summit communique, a consensus document, with the Ukraine issue becoming a stumbling block. There is also a possibility of Ukrainian President Vlodoymyr Zelensky virtually addressing the gathering.

(With agencies’ Inputs)