G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown

Special World leaders discuss food and energy security (main) on the opening day of the G20 Summit in Bali. (Getty Images)
World leaders discuss food and energy security (main) on the opening day of the G20 Summit in Bali. (Getty Images)
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Updated 16 November 2022

G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown

G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown
  • “Recover together, recover stronger” theme alludes to COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences
  • Presidents Biden and Xi held first in-person meeting amid strained US-China relations over a number of issues

DENPASAR, Bali: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year appeared to overshadow all else on the agenda of the leaders’ meeting of the Group of 20 on Tuesday, with the conflict in Europe having fueled geopolitical tensions and a global surge in food and energy prices.

Leaders of G20 member states, invited countries and international organizations have gathered in Bali to discuss the pressing challenges facing the global economy, which is creeping toward a recession.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is hosting the summit under the theme “Recover together, recover stronger” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.

Although the summit’s official focus is on financial stability, health, sustainable energy, and digital transformation, host Indonesia faces another layer of complexity as it tries to bridge rifts within the G20 over the war in Ukraine.

Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president, acknowledged the mood during his opening remarks on Tuesday, just before the closed-door discussions began.

“I understand we need huge efforts to be able to sit together in this room,” he said, while calling for collaboration among countries.

He pointed out that the world could not afford to fall into “another Cold War,” adding that nations must work to “end the war.”

He said: “Today, the eyes of the world are on our meeting. Will we score success? Or will we add one more to the list of failures? For us, G20 must succeed and cannot fail.”

Seventeen G20 leaders are attending this week’s summit, including US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Indonesia invited other nations and international organizations to take part, adding to a long list of world leaders that includes UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets French President Emmanuel Macron (right), as well as speaking with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (top left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoga on the sidelines of the G20 summit. (SPA)

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, addressed G20 leaders via video link on the summit’s first day, in which he shared his optimism that the conflict’s end could be in sight.

He said: “I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped.”

Analysts expect the war to feature prominently in the summit’s final communique, despite calls by the Indonesian hosts for dialogue and collaboration to resolve global economic problems such as inflation, and food and energy security.

Gatherings of G20 ministers since Indonesia took over the group’s presidency last December have failed to produce joint declarations. There have been disagreements between Russia and other members on the precise language, including how to describe what is occurring in Ukraine.

Dr. Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, an Indonesian international relations researcher at the University of Queensland, in Australia said the expected final declaration on Wednesday was unlikely to fully address the global challenges facing the world today.

He told Arab News: “Given the tensions between the US and China for example in some political matters and then war in Ukraine, it is difficult to see the G20 Summit will deliver an agreeable result that can solve the global challenges facing the world today, because global challenges facing the world today are largely a political problem.




Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, addressed G20 leaders via video link on the summit’s first day. (Screenshot)

“So, it is a difficult task for Indonesia to deliver a joint communique which is able to solve all the global challenges.”

He noted that the challenges facing the world today were “something that goes beyond Indonesia’s reach.”

Umar added that this was “because the global crisis today requires political solutions, and it is difficult for Indonesia to mediate, for example, between Russia and Ukraine.”

The gathering in Bali follows concerted efforts by Indonesia to broker peace between the warring nations. In late June, Widodo was the first Asian leader to travel to Kyiv and Moscow to meet his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts in an effort to ease the conflict’s impact on the international community.

Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, also felt that the global situation was beyond Indonesia’s control.

“The summit has been overshadowed by the Ukraine war, and it’s possible that they won’t reach a final communique, even though the key of the meeting’s success is on this communique,” he told Arab News.

“Indonesia’s position is as a developing country, and the defining players are the ones in conflict and developed countries, so even being able to facilitate the meeting between America’s Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping at the G20 is already an achievement for now,” Yudhistira said.




Analysts expect the war to feature prominently in the summit’s final communique, despite calls by the Indonesian hosts for dialogue and collaboration to resolve global economic problems such as inflation, and food and energy security. (AFP)

On Tuesday, Biden and Xi held their first in-person meeting since the US president took office. It came amid strained relations between their two countries that span various issues, ranging from trade to the status of Taiwan.

Yudhistira was nevertheless confident that this year’s G20 Summit would go down in history.

“I think this is a historic G20. It’s historic because of the polarization, because of the crack in multilateralism, but it’s still the one forum that brings together differences, such as between the US and China,” he added.

For others, there was still hope that the summit could bring about stability.

Diana Dewi, chairwoman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s chapter in Jakarta, told Arab News: “There is hope that this would result in world peace, because with this summit it’s not only about reaching for economic growth, but ever since the beginning, like President Widodo has said, this is an event that is supposed to unite.”

News agencies reported on Tuesday that leaders of the world’s largest economies appeared ready to convey a strong message condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though the draft declaration would still need to be approved by all the group’s members.

Established in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was originally intended to foster global economic cooperation. But it has since morphed into a forum addressing urgent world problems. This year’s focus was on health infrastructure and food security.

The annual leaders’ summit also serves as an opportunity for informal diplomatic exchanges, as heads of state participate in bilateral talks on the sidelines of the big meeting.




Joe Biden (right) and Chinese president Xi Jinping held their first in-person meeting since the US president took office. (AFP)

Tuesday witnessed a handful of the bilateral exchanges, including that of Xi and Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new prime minister, which marked the first formal meeting between the leaders of the two countries since 2016.

The Saudi crown prince also held a number of meetings on the summit’s sidelines, including with the UAE president, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Though most international headlines have focused on US and Chinese participation in the summit due to their global economic standing, Saudi Arabia’s role “is very significant,” senior Indonesian journalist Andreas Ismar told Arab News.

“Saudi Arabia needs to diversify its economy to be less oil-reliant and they have plenty of chances of doing that in this forum,” Ismar said, alluding to the Vision 2030 reform plan aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s economy away from hydrocarbons.

Saudi Aramco and Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina recently agreed to work together on the possibility of developing a clean ammonia and hydrogen value chain, as both Riyadh and Jakarta prioritize efforts on transitioning toward renewable energy sources.

“I’m guessing there will be plenty more to come between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Cooperation between the two countries was previously more on political and culture, but it is now rapidly shifting into economics,” Ismar added.

 


US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces
Updated 13 sec ago

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces
  • Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east
KYIV: The head of US intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months.
Avril Haines alluded to past allegations by some that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news — for Russia — about war developments, and said he “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.”
“But it’s still not clear to us that he has a full picture of at this stage of just how challenged they are,” the US director of national intelligence said late Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.
Looking ahead, Haines said, “honestly we’re seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict” and her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply, and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring.
“But we actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that,” she said. “And I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that timeframe.”
In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut, while shelling sites in the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces liberated last month after an 8-month Russian occupation.
In his nightly address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at Western efforts to crimp Russia’s crucial oil industry, a key source of funds for Putin’s war machine, saying their $60-per-barrel price cap on imports of Russian oil was insufficient.
“It is not a serious decision to set such a limit for Russian prices, which is quite comfortable for the budget of the terrorist state,” Zelensky said, referring to Russia. He said the $60-per-barrel level would still allow Russia to bring in $100 billion in revenues per year.
“This money will go not only to the war and not only to further sponsorship by Russia of other terrorist regimes and organizations. This money will be used for further destabilization of those countries that are now trying to avoid serious decisions,” Zelensky said.
Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60 per barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.
Russian authorities have rejected the price cap and threatened Saturday to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it.
In yet another show of Western support for Ukraine’s efforts to battle back Russian forces and cope with fallout from the war, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on Saturday visited the operations of a Ukrainian aid group that provides support for internally displaced people in Ukraine, among her other visits with top Ukrainian officials.
Nuland assembled dolls out of yarn in the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag with youngsters from regions including northeastern Kharkiv, southern Kherson, and eastern Donetsk.
“This is psychological support for them at an absolutely crucial time,” Nuland said.
“As President Putin knows best, this war could stop today, if he chose to stop it and withdrew his forces — and then negotiations can begin,” she added.

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
Updated 04 December 2022

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
  • Semeru volcano on Java island spews a column of ash 1.5km into the air
  • Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Semeru volcano on Java island erupted early on Sunday, spewing a column of ash 1.5km into the air, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay away from the eruption area.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, warned residents not to conduct any activities within 5km of the eruption center and to stay 500 meters from riversides due to risks of lava flow.
Japan’s Meteorology Agency said was monitoring for the possibility of a tsunami there after the eruption, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The volcano began erupting at 2:46 a.m. (1946 GMT on Saturday), BNPB said in a statement. Videos posted on social media showed grey ash clouds in nearby areas.
BNPB did not immediately respond to Japan’s warning of tsunami risk.
Indonesian authorities have distributed masks to local residents, BNPB said in a statement, adding that volcanic activity remained at level III, below the highest level of IV.
With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million within 10km.

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2022

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
  • “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible

KABUL: The Daesh group claimed responsibility Saturday for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, which Islamabad decried as an “assassination attempt.”
A security guard was wounded in the attack Friday in the Afghan capital.
In a statement cited by jihadist monitor SITE, Daesh’s regional chapter said it had “attacked the apostate Pakistani ambassador and his guards.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called it “an assassination attempt” on the head of the mission, and demanded an investigation.
A Kabul police spokesman said one suspect had been arrested and two light weapons seized after security forces swept a nearby building.
Although Pakistan does not officially recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government, it kept its embassy open even as the hard-line group took over in August last year, and maintains a full diplomatic mission.
An embassy official told AFP a lone attacker “came behind the cover of houses and started firing,” but that the ambassador and other staff were safe.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said they strongly condemned the “failed attack.”
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible.
Pakistan has complicated relations with the Taliban, with Islamabad long accused of supporting the hard-line group even while backing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled them following the 9/11 attacks.
Pakistan is home to more than a million Afghan refugees, and the porous border they share is frequently the scene of clashes.
Since returning to power, the Afghan Taliban have insisted they would not allow foreign militant groups to operate from home soil.
 

 


Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
Updated 04 December 2022

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
  • FOI request shows 20 percent of 2022 intake ‘disappeared’ while in Kent County Council care

LONDON: Up to 20 percent of Albanian child migrants relocated to an English council in 2022 have been classified as disappeared after going missing, the BBC reported.

Kent County Council admitted 197 unaccompanied Albanian child migrants up to Oct. 31, but figures show that 39 have gone missing.

Officials said that the council is working closely with the UK Home Office to protect and safeguard vulnerable migrant children.

It comes as figures revealed that almost 12,000 Albanians crossed into the UK this year.

The number is an almost 4,000 percent increase on last year’s figure.

Ecpat UK, a campaign group that aims to protect vulnerable children, described the figures obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request as “concerning.”

Head of policy, advocacy and research Laura Duran said that the 20 percent figure represented a “really high” number of missing children.

“We’re really concerned they are at risk of exploitation or have effectively been trafficked,” she said.

“They could be facing labor exploitation in different industries such as construction or car washes. They could be criminally exploited in drug distribution or in cannabis farms, or they could be sexually exploited.”

In a statement, Kent County Council said: “While all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are vulnerable to exploitation, research and experience evidences that some nationalities are particularly vulnerable and can go missing from local authority care very quickly.

“Kent County Council has used both established safeguarding protocols, including the National Referral Mechanism, and initiated multi-agency strategies to minimize the risks for these children as much as possible.

“The council continues to take a proactive role in safeguarding all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care.”


UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths
Updated 04 December 2022

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths
  • Six children in England and Wales died after being diagnosed with the rare invasive Group A strep (iGAS) illness

LONDON: UK health officials warned on Friday that parents have to be alert for scarlet fever symptoms in their children, following the death of six youngsters from a more serious Group A strep-related illness.

British youngster Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, 4, started showing signs of a red rash across his lower back, and was prescribed antibiotics and Calpol.

Two weeks later, his condition worsened and he developed stomach pains, before dying in an ambulance en route to hospital.

Britain’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said five other children in England and Wales had died after being diagnosed with the rare invasive Group A strep (iGAS) illness.

UKHSA Deputy Director Colin Brown said the UK was “seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual” but resulting serious illnesses were “still uncommon.”

“The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics,” he added.

“However, it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.”

Brown urged parents to talk to a health professional if their child showed “signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”

The UKHSA said there were 851 scarlet fever cases reported in England in the most recent week with statistics available, compared to an average of 186 for the preceding years.

Investigations are also underway following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.

* With AFP