India G20 summit: Who is coming, and who is not

Leaders from the world’s top 20 economies are meeting for the India G20 summit today, Friday, for a two-day convention, overshadowed by concerns over the global economy, climate change and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.

Even though the upcoming India G20 summit carries the slogan “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, the truth is that the leaders of G20 nations are riven by differences and strategic fault lines.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are skipping the September 9-10 summit in the capital New Delhi, Agence France-Presse (AFP) confirmed.

It is not unusual, said Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

In an interview with ANI news agency, Jaishankar was also reported by Reuters as saying that it has nothing to do with India.

“No, no. I do not think it has anything to do with India,” he said when asked if Putin and Xi are skipping the summit because they are miffed with India.

As to whether or not their absence would affect building a consensus and producing a declaration at the end of the summit, the minister said: “We are negotiating right now…the clock did not start ticking yesterday.”

Nonetheless, expectations from the G20 are “very high” and New Delhi faces the challenge of dealing with a “very difficult world” reeling under the impact of the pandemic, conflict, climate change, debt and politics, he said.

Biden to attend the India G20 summit

United States (US) President Joe Biden will arrive in New Delhi on time for the India G20 summit to build alliances and possibly step in for other players, with China struggling at the moment.

Indian artist Jagjot Singh Rubal gives final touches to an oil painting of US President Joe Biden, at his workshop in Amritsar on September 5, 2023, ahead of the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi. (Photo by Narinder NANU / AFP)

His major talking points will range from “combating climate change, to mitigating the economic and social impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine”, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, as reported by AFP.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will accompany Biden, on her fourth visit to India in 10 months as the US seeks reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to better serve developing countries.

The White House wants the G20 to stay relevant as the “premier forum of economic cooperation globally”, Sullivan added.

Lavrov, not Putin, attends the India G20 summit

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin on accusations of war crimes for the alleged, unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children. The Kremlin denies the accusations, insisting the warrant against Putin is “void”.

This pool image distributed by Sputnik agency on September 5, 2023, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin chairing a meeting of the Pobeda (Victory) organising committee via a video link in Sochi. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / POOL / AFP)

In his stead, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will head the Russian delegation after Putin said he would not attend. Lavrov also led a similar delegation to the BRICS in South Africa summit last month, instead of Putin.

Li not Xi to attend the India G20 summit

Leading the Chinese delegation to the India G20 summit this weekend will be Premier Li Qiang, Beijing said Monday, all but confirming that Xi will not be attending.

The summit has taken on additional importance this year as many countries wrestle with high inflation and economic turbulence linked to a slowing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is struggling with challenges on both the domestic and overseas market fronts, including weak consumer demand, soaring youth unemployment and a crisis in the crucial property sector.

It also has a long-running border dispute with G20 host nation India, with the latest major incident resulting in a deadly Himalayan clash in 2020, which sent diplomatic relations into deep freeze.

Notably, India this week is staging military exercises near the Chinese border that will continue through the summit.

And of course, Narendra Modi

India holds the rotating G20 presidency this time, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seizing the opportunity for both India and himself to shine on the world stage.

Notably, the premier faces an uphill battle. He will strive to forge consensus between major powers over key issues, not limited to climate change and clean energy transition.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi gestures at the plenary session during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / POOL / AFP)

Meanwhile, New Delhi is again at odds with Beijing after a Chinese map last week claimed land that India also claims, including territory close to where the two countries clashed in 2020.

India is also seeking to develop closer ties with Western countries, including fellow Quad members the United States, Japan and Australia.

Modi is expected to push efforts to see the group expand to 21 with the African Union invited to join, a move that has been backed by Biden. The G20 is comprised of 19 countries plus the European Union (EU).

Who else is coming to the India G20 summit?

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will be among the leaders representing the European Union.

Fellow G7 members Britain, Canada, Japan and Italy will be represented by their respective premiers Rishi Sunak, Justin Trudeau, Fumio Kishida and Giorgia Meloni. And from the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will also take part.

Students give final touches to paintings of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canada PM Justin Trudeau, Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro at an art school in Mumbai on September 5, 2023, ahead of the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

From the Middle East, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend in person, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also expected. Whereas a delegation from the only African nation in the G20, South Africa, will be led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Brazil’s President Luiz Lula da Silva is coming and Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez is expected, but Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is likely to skip according to Indian media.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will attend as an observer, with the heads of the IMF and the World Bank also in attendance.

Other leaders are expected to attend, including Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.

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