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G20 mediators plan a dozen meetings to find common ground on war language

New Delhi is trying to find consensus ranging from the debt crisis and the African Union's membership to G-20 and reform of multilateral development banks

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By Sudhi Ranjan Sen

The chief mediators of Group of 20 countries are planning to meet more frequently in the coming weeks as they struggle to find common ground on how to describe Russia’s war in Ukraine before the leaders’ summit in September. 
 
If a joint statement does not materialize, India will become first G-20 chair to fail to issue such a statement since 2008. New Delhi wants to avoid such a situation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks to strengthen his credentials as an international statesman. 

“We will have 10 to 12 rounds,” said Amitabh Kant, the chief negotiator for India. The drafting of the final communique has already begun with the negotiators meeting virtually until the face-to-face discussions days before the heads of state gather in New Delhi on Sept. 9-10. 

Foreign and finance ministers meetings in India ended without a communique so far this year. The finance chiefs of the world’s top economies continued to be split over the language describing the war with just a “chair summary” and “outcome document” issued on Tuesday after two days of meetings in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. 

As the G-20 host, India is caught in the middle. The US and its allies insist on mentioning President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine in a communique traditionally issued after the heads of state summit but Russia and China are firmly opposed to it, leading to an impasse.

Currently the negotiators, also known as sherpas, are trying to bring “everybody around to a common agreement” but there were still wide differences within the group, Kant said. The G-20 countries have different national positions and the red lines need to be considered, he added.   

New Delhi is trying to find consensus ranging from the debt crisis and the African Union’s membership to G-20 and reform of multilateral development banks. The description on Russia’s war in Ukraine in the joint statement is seen as the last hurdle to cross.


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First Published: Jul 19 2023 | 12:46 PM IST

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