Negotiators began in-person negotiations in Delhi ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM), as the government prepared to welcome Foreign Ministers and delegations from more than 30 countries on Wednesday, who will attend the inaugural dinner.
The negotiations, held online last week, were led on Monday evening by G20 Sous-Sherpa Abhay Thakur and his counterparts from the G20 countries and the invitee countries to discuss the agenda and the ongoing issues over a joint communique given the divide over the Ukraine war.
The FMM on Thursday will see discussions divided into two sessions, before and after lunch. While the first session will focus on the themes of Strengthening Multilateralism and Need for Reforms, Food and Energy Security and Development Cooperation, the second will focus on Counter-Terrorism: New and Emerging threats, Global Skill Mapping and Talent Pool, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief . Officials and diplomats said a joint statement remains elusive given the deep divisions between the Russia-China combine and the G7 western countries-led grouping. However, they said there will be a greater push for a joint statement closer to the final G20 summit in Delhi in September.
Government sources, however, rejected criticism that the failure of negotiators to forge a joint statement at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in Bengaluru last week reflected badly on India, given that last year’s Bali Summit had forged a consensus.
“India’s considered and balanced position contributed in forging the Bali Declaration. In particular, the Prime Minister’s statement that this is not an era of war found great resonance. Our endeavour was to reflect the Bali consensus in the G-20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting, [as] expressed in the Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document. Therefore any criticism is misplaced and factually inaccurate,” sources said.
Officials pointed out that while the pre-FMM dinner in Indonesia was boycotted last year by the G-7 countries in protest against the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, they are hoping that many of the invitees will attend this year’s “Networking Reception and Conversation over Dinner” event.
While Mr. Lavrov landed on Tuesday evening, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, European Union High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Foreign Minister of Brazil Mauro Vieira are arriving in Delhi in time for the dinner. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock are among those likely to arrive overnight after the dinner, but in time for the FMM formal sessions to be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan grounds on Thursday.
During the regular meeting, Russia intends to “firmly and openly talk about the reasons and instigators of the current serious problems in world politics and the global economy”, said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement after the arrival of Mr. Lavrov in Delhi. Mr. Lavrov will “clearly state” the Russian assessment and “unbiased factual picture” of the “bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline” during the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting, the Ministry said.
Meanwhile, suspense continues over the arrival of Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi for the FMM, as he has not yet received the necessary parliamentary waivers to travel to India during the important Budget sessions.
According to sources, Mr. Hayashi may yet be able to travel for the meetings on Thursday, or he may attend the meeting virtually or depute a Deputy Minister in his place. The uncertainty over Mr. Hayashi’s visit also casts a shadow over New Delhi’s plans to hold a Quad Foreign Minister’s Meeting as well as a joint appearance for a Quad panel at the MEA’s Raisina Dialogue organised by Observer Research Foundation that is set to begin on Friday.