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Expect Russia to be part of all processes, says India on G20 presidency

NEW DELHI: India said on Thursday it expects Russia to be part of all the processes of G20 as it assumed the presidency of the grouping against the backdrop of persisting differences among its members over the Ukraine war.

“Russia is a member of the G20 and hence we would expect them to be participating in these processes,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly media briefing while responding to questions about the divisions within the G20 over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bagchi noted that the G20 works on the important principle of consensus, and India’s efforts as president of the grouping of the world’s 20 largest economies will be aimed at building consensus. This was the stance taken by India at the G20 Summit in Bali last month and this approach will continue, he said.

“I would not be able to say anything further except to say that the grouping needs to speak with one voice, particularly on important issues affecting the world. We will certainly focus on issues that are affecting the developing world, the Global South, such as food, fuel and fertilisers,” he said.

India, which began its year-long G20 presidency on Thursday, and Indonesia, the previous president, played a key role in finalising a joint communique at the Bali summit amid deep divisions between Russia and the West. German ambassador Philipp Ackermann said on Wednesday that coping with the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be one of the “most difficult issues” for India’s G20 presidency.

“The decisive moment will be September [2023] when the [G20] summit comes together. But as it stands now, I think dealing with Russia will be one of the most difficult issues in this [G20] presidency,” Ackermann told reporters.

Bagchi pointed out that the world order has changed and structures and institutions of the past need to change to tackle contemporary challenges. India’s part in the G20 reflects these changes and the world cannot work with the structures of the past to address the challenges of today, he said.

Responding to a separate question on a media report that sanctions-hit Russia has sent India a list of more than 500 products it requires, including parts for cars, aircraft and trains and raw materials, Bagchi said: “We have regular engagement with Russia on how to sustain and expand trade. This has been going on for many years. From time to time, both countries indicate areas of interest or priority that they may be looking at.”

He added, “I would urge that nothing more should be read into this.”

The Indian government has not joined the West in openly criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it has sharply increased purchases of Russian crude and fertilisers in recent months. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in September that today’s era is “not of war”.

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