Key figures not at EAM dinner, buzz over bid to avoid Lavrov | India News


NEW DELHI: The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting formally kicked off with a “gala dinner” hosted by foreign minister S Jaishankarahead of the meetings on Thursday that will see participation by 40 delegations, including those from the member-states. While the G7 and EU will look to corner Russiawhich has threatened to “openly” talk about the reasons of the conflict, India will seek to keep the focus on the economic impact of the conflict, particularly on the developing world.
The dinner on Wednesday was marked by the absence of the foreign ministers of key G7 countries, which have been leading the international response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, like the US, France, Germany and Japan. However, UK foreign secretary James Cleverly and EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell participated in the dinner.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken only landed in India late on Wednesday. His French and German counterparts, Catherine Colonna and Annalena Baerbock respectively, were scheduled to arrive only on Thursday. Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang arrived late on Wednesday night. Diplomatic sources were tight-lipped on whether the arrival of the US, German and French was deliberately timed to avoid any face-off with Lavrov who himself, according to a source, only fleetingly attended the event.
While Russia has threatened to expose the West, the EU also seemed to have hardened its position on the conflict ahead of the meetings on Thursday. Borrell told journalists Wednesday that “this war has to be condemned’’ and expressed hope that India’s “diplomatic capacity’’ will be used in order to make Russia understand that the war had to end. Baerbock too said before her departure to India that she will look to counter Russia “”propaganda’’ at the meeting.
Asked about the possibility of a joint statement after the meeting, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said it would not be correct to prejudge the outcome of the meeting.

“For us the questions relating to the food, energy and fertilizer security, the impact that the conflict has on these economic challenges that we face, the development cooperation templates that we want to talk about, the new and emerging threats, the problem of counter terrorism, counter narcotics, the issues that we face on the reform of multilateralism, each one of them is a very, very significant and a substantial issue, which is absolutely crucial for the Global South,’’ said the foreign secretary.
Kwatra said that while the Russia-Ukraine conflict will be an important issue at the G20 meetings, it was equally important to focus on the consequences of the conflict.
“Clearly, the foreign ministers will also focus on the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine, but what is it that they come out with, and more importantly…when they meet tomorrow and discuss this, what is the understanding that they develop not just on the conflict, but also on the impact of that conflict on the rest of the world, particularly the economic impact, particularly the development impact, the challenges that the developing countries face, because of that conflict,’’ said Kwatra. One of the sessions on Thursday will focus on new and emerging threats, including counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics.


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