Cracks over Ukraine widen as India G20 meet ends without consensus

New Delhi, Mar 2 (EFE).- A meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) leading economies ended without a joint declaration in the Indian capital due to widening differences of opinion on the Russia-Ukraine war.

It was for the second time in a week that the bloc under the presidency of India failed to come up with a collective document after G20 finance ministers similarly ended their meeting over the weekend in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru in the run-up to the leaders’ summit later this year.

At the end of the two-day gathering in the Indian capital, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told reporters that the host country did not release a joint communique because “there were issues.”

“The issues, I would say very frankly, concern the Ukraine conflict on which there were divergences. There were difference on the Ukraine issue which we could not reconcile between various parties who had different positions.”

The Indian minister said the differences erupted over only two paragraphs of the final text, insisting that the countries agreed on all other points discussed during the meeting.

“Do appreciate that the bulk of the issues which concern especially the developing countries, there was a considerable meeting of minds and a considerable meeting of minds which has been captured by the outcome document,” Jaishankar said.

“On issues of debt, fuel, climate and food we could get everyone together.”

He said if the grouping had a “perfect meeting of minds on all issues and captured it fully, then obviously it would have been a collective statement.”

The summary document said the differences emerged over two paragraphs.

One of them highlighted how the “war in Ukraine has further adversely impacted the global economy,” condemning in the “strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and demanding “its complete and unconditional withdrawal.”

The other paragraph urged the countries “to uphold international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability” and adhere to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and infrastructure in armed conflicts.”

The compromised “chair’s summary” mentioned that Russia and China rejected the text over these two paragraphs in the document taken from the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration in November 2022.

“Some countries feel that Bali declaration cannot be extrapolated,” Jaishankar said.

The cracks broadened after the United States and Russia traded blows at the G20 talks even as the top diplomats from the two countries, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, met briefly on the margins of the meeting in New Delhi.

It was the first in-person meeting between Blinken and Lavrov after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Blinken accused Russia of vitiating the atmosphere at the meeting with an “unprovoked and unjustified war.”

Lavrov said the West was erecting “destructive barriers” and blocking the export of goods of “critical importance to the global economy, including energy sources and agricultural products.”

India has since the start of the war declined to blame its old ally, Russia, for the European conflict.

Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has walked a tightrope of neutrality, calling for a diplomatic solution even as New Delhi has sharply multiplied its cost-effective Russian oil purchases.

Ahead of the meeting on Thursday morning, Modi called on the G20 foreign ministers to “prevent future wars by balancing competing interests” and “foster international cooperation on issues of common interests.”

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