Blinken and Lavrov to attend G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Delhi

Summit will be held in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and spiralling US-China tensions

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, foreground, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a foreign ministers meeting in Cambodia. Reuters
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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang are among representatives of 40 countries who will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting in New Delhi starting on Thursday.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Australia's Penny Wong are among those scheduled to attend the forum.

The two-day meeting in New Delhi will take place in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and spiralling US-China tensions over the spy balloon incident.

India assumed the G20 presidency in December last year. The foreign ministers' get-together is one of the first high-profile meetings of the forum.

While the summit is expected to focus on global challenges such as rising food and energy prices, growing debt, and poor economic recovery after the pandemic, some experts believe the Russia-Ukraine crisis will dominate talks.

“The foreign ministers would focus on the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine but also on the impact of that conflict on the rest of the world, Vinay Kwatra, India's foreign secretary, said on Wednesday. “Particularly the economic impact, the development impact and the challenges that developing countries are facing because of the conflict.”

China has called for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia and the opening of peace talks in a 12-point proposal.

The US and its western allies have been trying to isolate Moscow through economic sanctions and diplomatic manoeuvres.

Mr Lavrov reached New Delhi late on Tuesday.

Mr Blinken is expected to arrive early on Thursday after brief stopovers in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, former Soviet states and close friends of Moscow.

He is expected to hold talks with India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

The US state department said earlier that it would focus on strengthening multilateralism and deepening co-operation on food and energy security, global health, humanitarian assistance and other issues.

Mr Lavrov will also meet Mr Jaishankar individually and exchange assessments on topical international issues, the situation in Ukraine, the state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the creation of a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Mr Qin's meeting with Mr Jaishankar will take place against the background of a simmering border dispute between New Delhi and Beijing.

No Japan

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is unlikely to travel to India because of a “scheduling conflict” with an impending parliament session.

Last week, he called for global efforts at the UN to force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

The second day of the meeting will be divided into two sessions.

The first will focus on the themes of Strengthening Multilateralism and Need for Reforms, Food and Energy Security and Development Co-operation.

The second will focus on Counter-Terrorism: New and Emerging threats, Global Skill Mapping and Talent Pool, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.

Updated: March 01, 2023, 8:47 AM