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Blinken says G20 meeting in India marred by Russia-Ukraine war

G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi

By Simon Lewis

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -The Group of 20 (G20) meeting of foreign ministers has again been marred by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, as he called for the bloc to call on Russia to withdraw its forces.

The war has been a major sticking point at meetings of the G20, which groups the world's largest economies and includes both the United States and Russia, since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of its neighbour on Feb. 24, 2022.

"Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, deliberate campaign of destruction against civilian targets, and its attack on the core principles of the UN Charter," the top U.S. diplomat told the bloc's foreign ministers, according to prepared remarks shared with reporters after Blinken delivered them on Thursday morning.

This year’s host India has declined to blame Russia for the war, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

The G20 should repeat calls – agreed upon by most G20 nations’ leaders in Bali in November - for Russia to end the war and withdraw for the sake of international peace and economic stability, Blinken said.

"Even as we rally support for Ukraine, we remain focused and leading on global challenges. It’s what the world needs and expects," he added.

India has sought to avoid its year as chair of the forum becoming dominated by the war in Ukraine, and has called for a focus on food, energy and fertilizer security that are especially impacting less wealthy nations.

Blinken said Russia has yet to agree to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which facilitates the export of Ukraine's agricultural products, before it expires on March 18.

"It is imperative the G20 speak up on behalf of extending and expanding the (Black Sea) grain initiative to strengthen food security for the most vulnerable," Blinken added.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Krishna N. Das and Gareth Jones)