Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said there were “divergences” on the issue of war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile as various parties held differing views.”
A meeting of top diplomats of the Group of 20 industrialised and developing nations ended in New Delhi without a consensus on the Ukraine war, India’s foreign minister said, as members grappled with deepening rifts in their ranks and held contentious talks dominated by Russia’s military operation and China’s moves to boost its global influence.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said there were “divergences” on the issue of war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile as various parties held differing views.”
“If we had a perfect meeting of minds on all issues, it would have been a collective statement,” Jaishankar said.
He added that members agreed on most issues involving the concerns of less-developed nations, “like strengthening multilateralism, promoting food and energy security, climate change, gender issues and counter-terrorism.”
China joined Russia in refusing to support a demand for Moscow to cease hostilities in Ukraine.
Both countries were the only G20 members not to agree to the statement demanding Russia's "complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine".
Host India had appealed for all members of the fractured Group of 20 to reach consensus on issues of deep concern to poorer countries even if the broader East-West split over Ukraine could not be resolved.
And while others, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, chose to highlight their positive roles in addressing world crises, the divide was palpable.
Last week, India was forced to issue a compromised chair’s summary at the conclusion of the G-20 finance ministers meeting after Russia and China objected to a joint communique that retained language on the war in Ukraine drawn directly from last year’s G-20 leaders summit declaration in Indonesia.
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In a video address to the assembled foreign ministers in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the members not to allow current tensions to destroy agreements that might be reached on food and energy security, climate change and debt.
“We are meeting at a time of deep global divisions,” Modi told the group, which included Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, whose discussions would naturally be “affected by the geopolitical tensions of the day.”
“We all have our positions and our perspectives on how these tensions should be resolved,” he said, adding that: “We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can.”
In a nod to fears that the increasingly bitter rift between the US and its allies on one side and Russia and China on the other appears likely to widen further, Modi said that "multilateralism is in crisis today.”
He lamented that the two main goals of the post-World War II international order — preventing conflict and fostering cooperation — were elusive.
“The experience of the last two years, financial crisis, pandemic, terrorism and wars clearly shows that global governance has failed in both its mandates,” he said.
Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, then addressed the group in person, telling them that they “must find common ground and provide direction.”
Blinken, according to remarks released by the State Department, spent much of his time describing US efforts to bolster energy and food security. But he also told the ministers pointedly that Russia's war with Ukraine could not go unchallenged.
“Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, deliberate campaign of destruction against civilian targets, and its attack on the core principles of the UN Charter,” he said.
Blinken and Lavrov met briefly on Thursday in the first high-level meeting in months between the two countries.
US officials said Blinken and Lavrov chatted for roughly 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference.
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