Modi urges G20 ministers to look beyond Ukraine war in talks

India prime minister Narendra Modi addresses foreign ministers G20 meeting through video  (Supplied by MEA)
India prime minister Narendra Modi addresses foreign ministers G20 meeting through video (Supplied by MEA)

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi urged global leaders on Thursday to “rise above differences” over the Russia-Ukraine war as the G20 summit tests the host nation’s diplomacy in successfully delivering a joint statement at the end of the historic event.

Mr Modi opened the foreign ministers’ summit in the presidential palace by addressing the gathering of 40 dignitaries from across the world through a video message.

“We must all acknowledge that multilateralism is in crisis today,” he said.

“The experience of the last few years – financial crisis, climate change, pandemic, terrorism, and wars – clearly shows that global governance has failed in both its mandates,” he added, indirectly referring to the Russia-Ukraine war.

This has been billed as the largest gathering of foreign ministers in the history of G20.

Mr Modi said the gathering should acknowledge the “tragic consequences of this failure” were being faced most of all by the developing nations.

The leader of the host nation of G20 admitted that it was “but natural that discussions” would be affected by the geopolitical tensions”.

“However, as the leading economies of the world, we also have a responsibility towards those who are not in this room. The world looks upon the G20 to ease the challenges of growth,” he added.

Urging the members to deliver “concrete results”, Mr Modi said G20 has the capacity to build consensus.

“We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can,” he said.

He asked the leaders to focus on what united the world and not what divided it.

“I am sure that today’s meeting will be ambitious, inclusive, action-oriented, and will rise above differences,” he concluded.

Mr Modi’s comments were an apparent reference to a consensus of foreign ministers at the end of the two-day foreign ministers’ meeting to forge a joint statement. However, analysts have said it is highly unlikely that there would be enough common ground to deliver that.

The Indian government is aspiring to become the voice of developing nations, referred to as the global south by hosting a successful G20 amid unapparelled multidimensional challenges of economic crises and geopolitical tensions in the world.

It is to be seen if India would be able to persuade the foreign ministers to agree to draw up a joint statement and avoid the repeat of the finance ministers meeting in Bengaluru when policymakers failed to deliver a joint communique.

Delhi became the diplomatic capital of the world as the foreign ministers and delegates were welcomed by life-sized billboards of Mr Modi proclaiming India as the “mother of democracy”.

The second ministerial meeting has put US secretary of state Antony Blinken, Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang and their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the same room for the first time since the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in 2022.

Mr Lavrov is expected to condemn the “destructive policy” of the United States and its allies as the year-long Russian war in Ukraine casts a shadow over the summit.

Mr Blinken, who arrived in Delhi on Wednesday night from his tour in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, said he had no plans to meet with them individually but expected to see them in group settings.

The meeting, which is expected to set the tone for the leaders’ summit in September, is particularly crucial for India’s hopes to leverage its position on the global stage. It is important also to Mr Modi as its presidency will conclude at the significant time when the 2024 elections commence.