India confident G20 will agree on declaration, but wording on Ukraine unresolved

A police officer stands outside ‘Bharat Mandapam’, the main venue of the G20 Summit, in New Delhi, India, September 7, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India expressed confidence on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023, that the Group of 20 major economies will finalize a declaration at this weekend’s summit in New Delhi, with sources saying only the wording about the war in Ukraine had yet to be resolved.

Negotiators have been struggling for days to agree on the language because of differences over the war, hoping to get Russia and China on board to produce a communique that will also address pressing global problems like debt and climate change.

India’s G20 sherpa, or negotiator, Amitabh Kant said the summit’s concluding statement, the Leaders’ Declaration, will be a “voice” of the global south and developing countries.

“New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration is almost ready, I would not like to dwell on it,” Kant told a news conference. “This declaration will be recommended to the leaders.”

Four Indian government sources said language on the war was the only issue left and a second meeting of sherpas to seek consensus was likely to last into the night.

One source told Reuters a joint declaration may or may not come to a unanimous agreement. It could have different paragraphs stating the views of different countries or record agreement and dissent in one paragraph.

A security force personnel patrols past hoardings featuring India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi along an empty road ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, September 8, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave

“We may paper over the differences and make a general statement saying we should have peace and harmony across the world so that everybody agrees,” a second source said.


Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the meeting and sending Premier Li Qiang instead, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin will also be absent.

U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, among others, will attend.

The hardened stance on the Ukraine war has prevented agreement on even a single communique at the ministerial meetings so far this year.

China said on Friday it is willing to work with all parties and push for a positive outcome at the summit.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning made the remarks after a media report said Sunak blamed China for delaying an agreement on various issues, including Ukraine.

In New Delhi, Sunak said that it was not his place to tell India what stand it should take on the war in Ukraine.

“It’s not for me to tell India what positions to take on international issues, but I know India rightly cares about the international rule of law, the UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity,” Sunak told Indian news agency ANI.


Modi’s government is projecting India’s presidency of the group and the summit as a showcase for the country’s fast-growing economy and its rising position in the geo-political pecking order.

New Delhi has been decked up for the gathering with a brand new summit venue, fountains, flowerpots and illumination along major thoroughfares, alongside thousands of armed security personnel standing guard.

More than 100 Tibetan refugees staged a protest away from the city centre on Friday, demanding that the “occupation” of their country by China be discussed during the summit.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier said Washington was willing to work with India to help craft a communique at the end of the summit but it would be a challenge.

Analysts say deeper divisions over the war in Ukraine risk derailing progress on issues such as food security, debt distress and global cooperation on climate change.

In addition, there is some disagreement on climate change cooperation, Indian government sources added.

The group has been divided on commitments to phasing down fossil-fuel use, increasing renewable energy targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said G20 leaders have the power to reset a climate crisis that is “spinning out of control” and urged them to reshape global financial rules which he described as outdated and unfair.

“The climate crisis is worsening dramatically – but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency,” Guterres said in a speech.



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