March 2, 2023
NEW DELHI — Climate change and “de-risking” of the global economy along with the Russia-Ukraine conflict are expected to be key issues for a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in New Delhi.
The meeting, starting March 1 and hosted by India, will be attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, along with their other counterparts from the Group of 20.
Japan is represented by a deputy minister after Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he had to skip the G20 meeting due to a Japanese parliamentary session this week.
Following a welcome ceremony for the foreign ministers on March 1, substantive discussions on a number of issues will take place on March 2, according to officials familiar with the G20 agenda. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the foreign ministers’ meeting
“The G20 should focus on prominent challenges in the global economy. China stands ready to work with all parties to ensure the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting sends a positive signal on multilateralism,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Feb 28.
Qin’s visit to India, his first as foreign minister, is highly significant and will draw much attention, according to Indian political observers. His predecessor, Wang Yi, visited New Delhi in March last year.
Swaran Singh, a professor of diplomacy and disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said “it is good” that Qin’s first India trip as foreign minister is happening for “a multilateral event when there is no pressure to resolve bilateral issues”.
The visit “will give him and his Indian interlocutors a good opportunity to get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere”, he said.
Following a welcome ceremony for the foreign ministers on March 1, substantive discussions on a number of issues will take place on March 2, according to officials familiar with the G20 agenda. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the foreign ministers’ meeting.
The ministers are expected to focus on issues such as multilateralism, food and energy security and development cooperation, counter-terrorism, new and emerging threats, global skill mapping and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Other issues likely to be discussed include the slowing economy, rising inflation, declining demand for goods and services, and rising prices for fuel, food and fertilizers.
The major concern of G20 would be to find ways of de-risking the global economy, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Feb 26.
“Today, the world has learnt a lesson that security means not only physical security, not only economic security. It also means health security, food security. So, today we have to find a way of de-risking the global economy, the way we would de-risk a sector, the way we would de-risk a business. That is a very major debate and I would say a very major concern of what the G20 would be looking at,” Jaishankar said.
India is also seeking the support and cooperation of all the grouping’s members for the success of its G20 presidency, the minister said. He added the G20 meeting would be “one of the highest-profiled international gatherings” hosted by India.
There will be 15 ministerial-level meetings of G20 this year besides the President and Prime Minister-level conclaves in September, Jaishankar said.
Ahead of the foreign ministers’ meeting, India is attempting to forge an understanding and close the gap between the West and Russia over the Ukraine issue, a diplomat familiar with the matter said.
India has emphasized that during its G20 presidency, it will be the voice of the global south to address the challenges they face.
Russia on Feb 26 alleged that the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Bengaluru ended without a joint communique because of the “confrontational” approach toward Moscow by the “collective West” over the situation in Ukraine.
The meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors on Feb 25 was unable to produce a joint declaration due to objections from Russia and China.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, referred to “the constructive role” of the Indian presidency and its efforts to have “fair consideration of interests and positions of all countries”.
Both China and India have refrained from denouncing the Russian special operation in Ukraine, and have been advocating for resolution of the conflict through peaceful dialogue and diplomacy.
The G20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies. Its members account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, over 75 percent of global trade, and about 85 percent of the world’s GDP.
The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.