India's Modi welcomes Gaza hostage deal at G20 virtual summit

Prime Minister addressed world leaders including Turkish and Russian presidents and UN chief Antonio Guterres

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the G20 virtual summit in New Delhi. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday welcomed the deal to release Israeli hostages during the virtual G20 Summit while expressing concerns that the conflict could spill over into the wider region.

A temporary pause in the Israeli air and land campaign and a hostage deal has been agreed by Israel and Hamas after six weeks of brutal bombardment of the enclave that has left more than 14,000 Palestinians dead.

About 50 hostages will be released in exchange of 150 Palestinians in Israel. All are women and children.

“We believe that terrorism is unacceptable to all of us,” Mr Modi said. “Death of civilians be it anywhere is condemnable. We welcome the release of the hostages today and we hope that all the hostages will be released. Timely and continuous humanitarian aid is also important.”

Mr Modi addressed leaders of the G20 nations including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Chinese President Xi Jinping did not attend the summit.

While acknowledging the hostage release, the Indian Prime Minister said: “It is also important to be certain that the war between Israel and Hamas doesn’t take the shape of a regional conflict. What we are witnessing today, one family has the power that we can work towards peace and can raise the voice against terrorism and violence and for humanity.”

The Group of 20 is an international forum comprising 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US – and the EU.

The group focuses mainly on the global economy, financial stability, climate change, mitigation and sustainable development.

New Delhi, which holds the presidency until November 30, had organised the two-day G20 Leaders' Summit in Delhi in September – the most powerful gathering that India has ever hosted, attended by world leaders.

India has handed over next year's G20 presidency to Brazil, but Mr Modi suggested reconvening the leaders’ summit virtually for the remaining period.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also participated in the summit – the first time he had faced the Indian Prime Minister since he accused New Delhi of playing a role in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, triggering a diplomatic row between the two countries.

New Delhi had dismissed the claim as “absurd” and in ensuing diplomatic tension temporarily closed visa services.

New Delhi restored e-visas for Canadian nationals on Wednesday, before the summit.

In his opening speech, Mr Modi hailed the African Union becoming a G20 member during India’s presidency.

The African bloc of 55 member states will have the same status as the EU.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 4:16 PM