G20 nations must strive to prevent new wars and global economic chaos

There is an urgent need for diplomacy at the highest levels to ease dangerously high tensions across the world

Monday at the G20 summit saw a key meeting between the US and China. AP
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Taking place under the theme "Recover Together, Recover Stronger," this year's G20 summit could hardly be more pressing, as hopes for economic recovery from the turmoil of Covid-19 are getting more and more distant by the day.

The group, which is made up of 19 countries and the EU, has massive sway when it comes to the world economy. Its countries constitute about 80 per cent of Global GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two thirds of the world's population.

That is why they need to muster all the energy and clout they have to stop a potentially devastating global downturn.

Other powers are in attendance to support the process. On Monday, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed touched down at Indonesia's Ngurah Rai International Airport, at the invitation of the host to attend the summit. He was also there to consolidate strong ties between the UAE and Indonesia.

But the meeting will be globally historic for bleaker reasons.

Top of the agenda is the war in Ukraine, which has stressed both food and energy markets, affecting both rich and poor countries. In what some view as a blow to diplomatic progress on the issue, Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the G20s most important leaders, is not in attendance. Instead, Russia is represented in person by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Earlier speculation that both Mr Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could share the same platform for the first time might have been dashed, but Ukraine will still rank high on the agenda, particularly for the biggest players at the summit.

Therefore, all eyes were on Monday's meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Tensions are high between the two, but words exchanged by both on Monday were encouragingly friendly. With an arm around his colleague, Mr Biden said "It's just great to see you". It is the first time the pair have met in person since the Obama administration, when Mr Biden was vice president.

The horrors of the Ukraine war are evidence enough that 21st-century interstate conflict must be stopped. That is why the pair were so keen to discuss others that could break out, particularly between North and South Korea and even China and the US themselves over the status of Taiwan.

The case for such collaboration at the G20 must be made in such a dangerous situation, and reinforced through actions when both return to their respective countries.

While he is in the country, Sheikh Mohamed also attended with his Indonesian counterpart President Joko Widodo the inauguration of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Solo. It is a replica of the bigger site in Abu Dhabi, and, according to a tweet released by Sheikh Mohamed on Monday, represents values of peace and goodwill.

It is a significant visit that can remind people that, however bad things are, co-operation and friendship still has a place in global diplomacy.

At the end of the G20 conference, members are expected release a statement of commitments that delegates have reached at the meeting. It will undoubtedly be couched in the language of co-operation and collaboration so often seen in diplomatic documents. But none of it is binding. In such difficult times, taking these statements forward after the meeting will, therefore, be of tantamount importance.

Published: November 15, 2022, 3:00 AM