What to expect from the G20 leaders’ summit in India’s capital New Delhi

What to expect from the G20 leaders’ summit in India’s capital New Delhi
Students work on paintings of world leaders at an art school in Mumbai, main, ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi. (AFP)
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Updated 09 September 2023
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What to expect from the G20 leaders’ summit in India’s capital New Delhi

What to expect from the G20 leaders’ summit in India’s capital New Delhi
  • Event is the culmination of over 200 meetings of G20 delegations in more than two dozen cities across India
  • India has sought to build its image as a champion of the Global South during its G20 presidency

NEW DELHI/WARSAW: Leaders of the world’s most important economies are converging on New Delhi for the annual G20 Summit beginning on Saturday.

The Indian capital has had a makeover, with colorful decorative plants, green posts, fountains, sculptures, new streetlights and illuminated logos of India’s G20 presidency visible all the way from the international airport to the city’s center and around the main meeting venues.

Parts of the metropolis of 33 million people also went quiet as some of the main roads were shut and 130,000 security personnel were deployed to guard the event.

But what is the G20, why is this year’s summit important, and what should we expect from it?

 

 

The group of the world’s 20 major economies was established in the late 1990s, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis to address such events collectively.

Over the years, it has morphed into a forum for addressing urgent global problems such as food security, climate change and, since the 2021 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global repercussions of the conflict.

Together, members of the G20 account for 85 percent of global economic output, 75 percent of international trade, and about 60 percent of the world’s population.

The group’s members are 19 countries — Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US — plus the European Union.

Every year, the group is led by a different member, which hosts its policy meetings and their culmination — the leaders’ summit. India took over the G20 presidency from Indonesia last year and will hand it over to Brazil.


FASTFACTS

The G20 was founded in 1999 in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis as a forum for ministers and central bank governors to discuss global economic issues.

It was upgraded to the level of heads of state and government after the 2007/08 global financial crisis, becoming the premier forum for international economic cooperation.

In recent years, the bloc has faced divisions over trade, climate change and the war in Ukraine.


This year’s G20 Summit is the group’s 18th and India’s first as the host. It is the culmination of more than 200 meetings of G20 ministers, sherpas, and engagement groups, as well as side events and workshops that have taken place in more than two dozen cities across India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet made sure that G20 meetings were visible, resonated across the country and were widely followed at home and abroad, in what became a campaign to establish India’s image as a global power.




Security personnel stand guard near a G20 communication billboard with the portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inside the international media center at the G20 venue days ahead of its commencement in New Delhi on September 7, 2023. (AFP)

“India has lavished more attention on the G20 than any other host country in the past. This obviously means that all the main events are more high profile and are likely to generate good press for India,” Aditya Ramanathan, a research analyst at the public policy center Takshashila Institution in Bangalore, told Arab News.

The summit — coming right after India’s successful moon landing and last week’s launch of its first solar mission — would be expected to crown all the branding efforts, but how successful it is going to be does not depend on India alone.

“The G20 is much more divided today than it was a few years ago,” Ramanathan said.

“Global politics has changed dramatically since 2020 because of three factors: the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and China’s worsening ties with several countries.”


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China’s relations are frosty not only with the US, but also with India, with which tensions have flared sporadically along their Himalayan border for the past three years.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping was the second head of state to signal his absence at the summit. But while Putin also skipped the G20 Summit in Indonesia last year — in the wake of tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine — this will be the first time a Chinese leader has missed a summit since the first meeting in 2008.

“I don’t think that Xi Jinping’s decision to not attend is about the G20 per se,” said Manoj Kewalramani, a fellow in China studies at Takshashila Institution.

“It’s not like Beijing does not see value in the grouping. However, it does not want to be seen endorsing India as a leader of the Global South, which is how the Indian government has pitched its G20 presidency.”




In this photo taken on August 23, 2023, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi China (2R) and China's President Xi Jinping (2L) are shown in a family photo with Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the  2023 BRICS Summit n Johannesburg, South Africa, during which they positioned themselves as the principal voice for the emerging economies of the Global South. (Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

India and China, the world’s two most populous nations, have been competing to position themselves as the principal voice for the emerging economies of the Global South — that is, countries mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, and largely in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which until recently have often been described as developing or less developed.

India has used the world’s premier forum for economic cooperation to present itself as playing a bridging role between these countries and the West.

During last month’s summit of the B20 — the official G20 dialogue forum for the global business community — India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said that “the core mandate of the G20 is to promote economic growth and development and that cannot advance if the crucial concerns of the Global South are not addressed.”




India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar. (SUPPLIED)

Under India’s presidency, many meetings revolved around problems that plague the Global South, like reform of the international debt architecture and the impact of geopolitical uncertainties on access to food and energy.

India has also pledged that as G20 chair it would prioritize addressing the climate crisis, including the financing of response to climate change, developing green technologies, and a just energy transition.

During the G20 summit, world leaders will address what in general is referred to as key problems affecting the stability of the global market.

Some of the other issues up for agreement are green development, which includes climate finance, accessible digital public infrastructure, and augmenting renewable energy sources, as well as a global plan to improve sustainable agriculture and food security.

But will they achieve consensus?




Saudi Arabia’s assistant culture minister Rakan bin Ibrahim Al-Tawq represented the Kingdom at the G20 Culture Ministers' Meeting in Varanasi in India on Saturday. (SPA file)

The ultimate goal of the G20 forum is to formulate a joint statement and the ongoing war in Ukraine is likely to affect that. In the communique, the leaders will have to explain, for example, why the world is facing food and energy insecurity and high inflation.

However, during the ministerial meetings held throughout the year, G20 countries could not reach an agreement on what has caused this situation.

Western countries blame the crisis on Russia’s invasion of the world’s breadbasket, Ukraine, and some, including the US, France and Canada, have signaled that they would refuse to sign any joint declaration that does not condemn it.

If the leaders fail to achieve consensus, it would be the first time since the bloc’s founding that a summit would end without a joint communique. In that case, India, as the host country, will have to produce a statement summarizing the points the countries agreed on as well as the divergences.

“The G20 summit is taking place at a time when the world is impacted by the Ukraine war, and India represents the bridge between two extreme views,” said Sanjay Kapoor, analyst and chief editor of the political magazine Hard News.

“It’s a difficult summit to hold at this juncture. Though it has possibilities, the challenge would be to build a consensus around the core issues. The ministerial meetings haven’t yielded much in that direction.”

 


Canada pledges more visas for Gazans, says it’s ‘horrified’ by Israeli attack in Rafah

Canada pledges more visas for Gazans, says it’s ‘horrified’ by Israeli attack in Rafah
Updated 11 sec ago
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Canada pledges more visas for Gazans, says it’s ‘horrified’ by Israeli attack in Rafah

Canada pledges more visas for Gazans, says it’s ‘horrified’ by Israeli attack in Rafah

OTTAWA: Canada said on Monday it will issue visas to 5,000 Gazans, more than it originally pledged, and said it was “horrified” by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah that triggered a blaze causing 45 deaths.

The visas for Canadians’ relatives living in the enclave represent a five-fold increase from the 1,000 temporary resident visas allotted under a special program that Canada announced in December.

“While movement out of Gaza is not currently possible, the situation may change at any time. With this cap increase, we will be ready to help more people as the situation evolves,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller said.

A spokesperson for Miller said 448 Gazans had been issued a temporary visa, including 254 under a policy not related to the special visa program, and 41 have arrived in Canada so far.

An Israeli airstrike late on Sunday night triggered a fire in a tent camp in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, prompting an outcry from global leaders including from Canada.

“We are horrified by strikes that killed Palestinian civilians in Rafah,” Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement, adding that Canada does not support an Israeli military operation in Rafah.

“This level of human suffering must come to an end. We demand an immediate ceasefire,” Joly said, echoing global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court order to halt Israel’s assault.

Canada has repeatedly supported calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, including at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that the strike in Rafah had not been intended to cause civilian casualties and that something had gone “tragically wrong.” Israel’s military, which is trying to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, said it was investigating.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, according to the local health ministry, and an estimated 1.7 million people, more than 75 percent of Gaza’s population, have been displaced, according to the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

Israel launched its military campaign after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.


Spain pledges €1bn in military aid to Kyiv

Spain pledges €1bn in military aid to Kyiv
Updated 27 May 2024
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Spain pledges €1bn in military aid to Kyiv

Spain pledges €1bn in military aid to Kyiv

MADRID: Spain on Monday pledged one billion euros in military aid to Ukraine as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a security deal in Madrid.

The deal “includes a commitment for one billion euros in military aid for 2024,” Sanchez told a joint news conference

“It will allow Ukraine to boost its capabilities including its essential air defense systems to protect its civilians, cities and infrastructure which are still suffering indiscriminate attacks as seen this weekend in Kharkiv,” he said, referring to a Russian strike on the northeastern city that killed at least 16 people.

Zelensky’s visit comes as Ukraine has been battling a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region which began on May 10 in Moscow’s biggest territorial advance in 18 months.

With the Russian assault now in its third year, Ukraine has been pleading for more weapons for its outgunned and outnumbered troops, notably seeking help to address its lack of air defense systems.

According to El Pais newspaper, the deal would include new Patriot missiles and Leopard tanks. Zelensky has already signed bilateral security agreements with several countries including France, Germany and the UK.

Sanchez said the security agreement would cover a range of a different issues.

“The agreement is based on a comprehensive overview of security and covers various areas such as military, humanitarian and financial support, as well as collaboration between Spanish and Ukrainian defense industries, as well as help with reconstruction and de-mining among other things,” he said.


Italy says violence against civilians in Gaza ‘no longer justifiable’

Italy says violence against civilians in Gaza ‘no longer justifiable’
Updated 27 May 2024
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Italy says violence against civilians in Gaza ‘no longer justifiable’

Italy says violence against civilians in Gaza ‘no longer justifiable’
  • Defense Minister Guido Crosett said ‘We are watching the situation with despair’

ROME: Italy said on Monday Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza were no longer justifiable in one of the strongest criticisms Rome has made so far against Israel’s campaign.

“There is an increasingly difficult situation, in which the Palestinian people are being squeezed without regard for the rights of innocent men, women and children who have nothing to do with Hamas and this can no longer be justified,” Defense Minister Guido Crosetto told SkyTG24 TV.

“We are watching the situation with despair.”

Crosetto said Italy agreed in principle with the Israeli response to the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas militants on southern Israeli communities, but he added that a difference had to be made between the militant group and the Palestinian people.

On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani met Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa in Rome, reiterating their support for a ceasefire and urging Hamas to release Israeli hostages.

Italy has repeatedly said that Israel had a right to defend itself from Hamas. Last week, Rome said an International Criminal Court prosecutor’s decision to seek an arrest warrant for Israeli leaders was “unacceptable.” 


British foreign ministry official says some Muslims in UK want to ‘challenge values’ of the country

British foreign ministry official says some Muslims in UK want to ‘challenge values’ of the country
Updated 27 May 2024
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British foreign ministry official says some Muslims in UK want to ‘challenge values’ of the country

British foreign ministry official says some Muslims in UK want to ‘challenge values’ of the country
  • Was responding to comments made by right-wing politician Nigel Farage, the honorary president of Reform UK

LONDON: A British foreign office minister said on Monday some Muslims in the UK wanted to “challenge the values” of the country.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s was speaking after right-wing politician Nigel Farage, the honorary president of Reform UK, told Sky News on Sunday there was a growing proportion of British Muslims who “loathed” the UK’s values, citing a study that claimed 46 percent supported Hamas.

Trevelyan told LBC Radio on Monday that she believed a small minority of British Muslims matched the description.

“The vast proportion of British Muslims are wonderful, peace-loving, community-minded people, certainly in the northeast where I’m based, we have fantastic communities and they are a really important part of our social fabric,” she said.

“There are a very small proportion for whom they want to challenge those values that we hold dear in the UK, which are British values, and there we need to continue to work in community to bring those people to this.

“The UK has incredible values of freedom of speech, freedom of choice … these are incredibly important values, but they have to be nurtured and looked after, and where there are those who would threaten them we need to make sure that we deal with that,” she said.

Bridget Phillipson of the Labour Party, the shadow education secretary, slammed Farage’s comments as “incendiary rhetoric,” and told the same LBC show: “What we need in this election is a sense of how we bring our country together, how we focus on a more positive and hopeful mission for what our country can be — not this kind of division.”


WHO chief urges countries to quickly seal pandemic deal

WHO chief urges countries to quickly seal pandemic deal
Updated 27 May 2024
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WHO chief urges countries to quickly seal pandemic deal

WHO chief urges countries to quickly seal pandemic deal
  • Scarred by COVID-19, nations have spent two years trying to forge binding commitments on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

GENEVA: The World Health Organization chief on Monday urged countries to nail down a landmark global agreement on handling of future pandemics after they missed a hard deadline.
Scarred by COVID-19 — which killed millions, shredded economies and crippled health systems — nations have spent two years trying to forge binding commitments on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
Negotiators failed to clinch a deal ahead of this week’s World Health Assembly — the annual gathering of WHO’s 194 member states — the deadline for concluding the talks.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus opened the assembly Monday, saying he was confident that an agreement would be secured.
“Of course, we all wish that we had been able to reach a consensus on the agreement in time for this health assembly and crossed the finish line,” he said.
“But I remain confident that you still will, because where there is a will, there is a way.”
Tedros said the task before negotiators had been “immense, technically, legally, and politically,” and that they had been “operating on a very ambitious time line.”
“You have demonstrated a clear commitment to reaching an agreement,” he said, adding that negotiators had “worked long days and nights,” closing meetings as late as 4:00 a.m.
He hailed their dedication to push forward despite “a torrent of misinformation that was undermining your negotiations.”
While missing Friday’s deadline, countries have voiced a commitment to keep pushing for an accord.
Negotiators are due on Tuesday to present the outcome of the talks to the assembly, which runs until June 1, and the assembly will take stock and decide what to do next.
“I know that there remains among you a common will to get this done, so, there must always be a way,” Tedros said.
“Meaning the solution is in your hands,” he stressed.
Parallel talks have also taken place on revising the International Health Regulations, which were first adopted in 1969 and constitute the existing international legally binding framework for responding to public health emergencies around the world.
The proposed amendments to the IHR, including adding more nuance to a system meant to alert countries to potential health emergencies of global concern, might have a better chance of being adopted during this week’s assembly, observers said.