High-stakes G20 summit ends in Bali with world leaders condemning Russia’s war

The joint statement was contentious, but there was consensus, Indonesia's President says

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The high-powered meeting of world leaders at the G20 summit in Bali ended on Wednesday with President Joko Widodo of host nation Indonesia handing over the baton to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for next year’s conference.

After much deliberation, especially following the overnight missile strike near the Ukraine border raising fears Russia’s war would spill into Poland and Nato territory, the leaders jointly declared they “deplore in the strongest terms” Russia's aggression.

“The joint statement was contentious, but there was consensus,” Mr Widodo told the media after the conclusion of the summit. “We all agreed that the war must stop.”

The contents of the statement were debated well past midnight, especially a single paragraph about the war, Mr Widodo said.

Finally, a consensus was reached and Russia was represented at the time, he said.

A consensus closing statement was significant because of the divisions among the nations – not just Russia but also China and India that have been restrained in their criticism of the war because of trade ties with Moscow.

Mr Widodo said he urged all participants not to escalate the conflict.

He said the missile explosions in Poland were regrettable, but echoed US President Joe Biden's comments that it was unlikely the strike came from Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that although the US had given initial information about the missile blast, it was too early to say what had really happened.

“We must remain careful,” he said at the Bali Convention Centre.

He said China could play a bigger mediation role in the coming months in ensuring Russia de-escalates its offensive.

The war has already caused enough devastation and human suffering and hampered economic recovery, Mr Widodo said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo takes a selfie with members of the media during a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali. EPA

In the statement, the leaders said international law must be upheld, any threat to use nuclear weapons was inadmissible and that the Black Sea grain initiative was welcomed.

The declaration also said that the central banks of the member nations would continue to set the pace of monetary policy tightening.

Earlier, a widely anticipated meeting between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not take place, ostensibly because of an emergency meeting Mr Biden had called early in the morning.

China’s Foreign Ministry offered no information on the cancellation.

Mr Sunak, however, had a brief meeting with Mr Biden.

“The Prime Minister met US President Biden today at the G20 Summit in Indonesia,” said a representative for Mr Sunak.

“The leaders agreed on the national and international importance of the strong UK-US relationship, particularly given the challenging economic times the world is currently facing.

“The Prime Minister and President Biden underscored that the actions of President Putin and his regime are directly responsible for precipitating global economic issues including rising inflation. Maintaining international pressure to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine is in everyone’s interest.”

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Mr Sunak said no trade deal was discussed with the US President, only economic partnership.

He offered no details, even as he squarely blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Ukraine and showing utter contempt for international order.

Mr Sunak, though, had his first meeting with Mr Modi since taking office in October.

Mr Modi referred to the meeting in a tweet.

Mr Modi also met Australian PM Anthony Albanese, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, among other leaders at the summit.

Ballroom meeting

In a ballroom in his hotel earlier in the morning, Mr Biden had brought together the leaders of Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Italy, France and the UK, following the deadly explosions in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine.

All the nations that participated in the meeting were members of the Nato, except Japan. Noticeably missing from the gathering was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chose to stay away despite his country being a part of the alliance.

Quizzed on his absence at a media briefing later, he avoided giving a direct answer, saying: “Why don’t you ask the other members who were not present at the meeting?”

Mr Erdogan also chose to skip most of the morning’s proceedings in Bali, preferring instead to address the world media.

Speaking in Turkish, he said he believes the missiles that struck Polish territory did not come from Russia.

“Russia saying this has nothing to do with them and Biden saying these missiles are not Russian-made show this has nothing to do with Russia,” Mr Erdogan said.

Mr Erdogan said he will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he returns to Turkey.

He also said he expects a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea would extend by up to a year beyond the Saturday deadline.

“It will continue,” Mr Erdogan said. “There's no problem there.”

Updated: November 16, 2022, 1:06 PM
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