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G20 Sherpa's meeting: Negotiations to begin on leaders' statement

There have been differences between the two groupings over the language used to criticize Russia's invasion of Ukraine

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Photo: Bloomberg

Arup Roychoudhury Kumarakom

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On the penultimate day of the G20 Sherpa Meeting on Saturday, the representatives of the participating countries will kick-start negotiations on the joint statement that the leaders will endorse later this year in September.

“The first session of the day will be on the way forward for G20 outcome documents and negotiating the Leaders’ statement. Talks will begin on what the themes will be, the number of paragraphs, sub-themes, etc,” a top official told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 Sherpas meeting in Kumarakom.

These discussions will of course continue into future meetings leading up to the Summit Statement.

Indian officials hope that the country’s presidency will be marked by a Summit Statement which is endorsed and backed by all nations, including the G7 nations and Russia and China.

There have been differences between the two groupings over the language used to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This is the reason the meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) and the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) issued chair summaries and not a joint communiqué.

The third and fourth paragraphs of the chair summaries of FMCBG and FMM criticize the war in Ukraine and have been largely unchanged from the Bali Leaders Declaration of November 2022, which was decided upon by the G-20 Heads of States.

On Friday, the Sherpas attended two sessions.

The first session was on technological transformation. It focused on the progress achieved by India and other G20 members in digital economy, health, education, tourism and culture.

The second session was on accelerated inclusive and resilient growth and women led development. There were also a number of bilateral meetings among all nations.
The three ‘Cs’
Cuisine, culture and crafts. That is how a senior official described India’s plan to display its heritage as G20 President. Like every other venue, this was the plan being followed at Kumarakom, too. The food on offer was proper Kerala cuisine. Onam Sadhya is also being planned for the dignitaries. On the culture front, Kathakali or Mohiniyattam or Thayyam — anci­ent martial art of Karalipayattu — the Boat Race and the procession of temple elephants known as Thr­i­ssur Pooram are scheduled. The delegates could take their pick from products of the Coir Board, trad­itional textiles & handicrafts.
Boat diplomacy
At the G20 Sherpa meeting in the scenic Kumarakom, a plush houseboat was set aside for representatives of the heads of states to engage in bilateral talks, away from the main venue. This houseboat was also used at the end of the day’s work to engage in what is known as ‘sofa talks’ (organisers’ word, not reporter’s). Essentially, all G20 Sherpas got onto the houseboat, without aides, delegates or media, and just went sailing.
The idea was to let Sherpas move away from the officials, legal language used in these meetings, the prepared statements and the agenda talking points, and for them to just drop their guard and talk among themselves. Of course, discussions were informal and confidential. Guess the fate of the Free World is being decided in a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala. Arup Roychoudhury

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First Published: Mar 31 2023 | 10:09 PM IST

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