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G20: West, Russia signal backing for New Delhi declaration despite differences over Ukraine war

Chances of a New Delhi declaration at the end of the G20 summit under India’s presidency have brightened with both the West and Russia signalling their backing despite persisting differences over the language on the Ukraine war.

Both Russia and the West, including the European Union (EU), are hopeful of an agreed text at the end of the summit, being held in the capital on Saturday and Sunday, said people with knowledge of the matter. “The negotiations are moving towards a consensus on a declaration, but challenges still remain. All sides are trying their best to narrow down differences and agree on a text. India is using its good offices with both sides to arrive at a consensus amid a highly polarised atmosphere,” a person privy to the negotiations told ET on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, the West, particularly the EU, had rejected the compromise formula proposed by India for the joint communique. However, negotiations have intensified since and G20 members may speak in one voice at the end of the summit, said people in the know.

European Council President Charles Michel on Friday said they would support India even as they remain “firm and united” in backing Ukraine.

Russian government officials told ET that G7 countries are putting pressure on India “to have their unilateral approaches to the situation in Ukraine reflected in the final documents of the G20 summit”.

But India is trying to adhere to a neutral course, based on the strictly economic mandate of the G20, the person cited earlier said and pointed out that India rejected the West’s demands for inviting Ukraine to the meetings on this platform, “thus preventing the US and its allies from reducing to nothing with their opportunistic considerations the tangible practical achievements of New Delhi’s one-year presidency”. Ukraine tried hard to get its president either invited or to deliver a message virtually at the summit. Ukrainian MPs had planned a visit to India ahead of the summit, something that the Indian government put on hold.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 that UK PM Rishi Sunak blamed China for delaying an agreement on various issues, including Ukraine.

“No document in the world would have such a strong voice for the global south and the developing countries,” Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 sherpa, said at a presser on Friday.

Multilateral summits globally often see negotiations going down to the wire before a consensus is reached.

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