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New Delhi all decked out to host G20 Summit

by tbhdesk

The Indian capital of New Delhi is all geared up to host the two-day 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit beginning tomorrow when leaders of the world’s richest and most powerful countries will be in attendance grappling with some of the most pressing geopolitical issues like the Russian-Ukraine conflict and resultant geo-economic issues of food and energy security.

The summit, the largest one so far, serves as the culmination of a year’s worth of G20 processes and meetings involving ministers, senior officials and civil society representatives.

The highly anticipated event will see the adoption of a G20 Leaders’ Declaration, solidifying the leaders’ commitment to the discussed priorities from ministerial and working group meetings.
The summit will take place in the sprawling and refurbished Pragati Maidan, a convention-cum-exhibition centre christened Bharat Mandapam in the heart of one of the most populous cities in the world.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to fly to New Delhi this noon to attend the G20 Summit as a special invitee of India.

For the first time, India will host such a powerful group of world leaders drawn from developed and developing countries, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, apart from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Two big names missing from the New Delhi summit will be Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. In their absence, Prime Minister Li Peng and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be the flag-bearers of China and Russia respectively at the summit.

The summit will serve as a culmination of all the G20 processes and more than 200 meetings held across India through the year since India took over the grouping’s Presidency.

A G20 Leaders’ Declaration will be adopted at the conclusion of the New Delhi Summit, stating leaders’ commitment towards the priorities discussed and agreed upon during the respective ministerial and working group meetings.
Carrying the theme of the Global South lit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time of taking over the G20 presidency from January, the summit will be attended by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a special invitee, which has made special efforts to turn the focus on developing and least developed countries in a bid to create a third geopolitical order equidistant from both the US and China.

For Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, this will be second time in a fortnight that she will be joining the global high table of diplomacy. Earlier, she had attended the BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 22-24.

Ahead of the formal launch of the summit, the prime minister will have a bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart at the latter’s official residence at Lok Kalyan Marg at 5:30pm (Indian time) today when the two leaders will take stock of the bilateral relations at a time when Bangladesh readies for the general election.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi said Narendra Modi did not want to sit in a brief pull-aside meeting with Sheikh Hasina. Therefore, the bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers has been fixed at 5:30pm on Friday when they are expected to have in-depth discussion on a wide range of issues from election to economic cooperation.

They said it will possibly be the last bilateral meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi before the general election in Bangladesh. So, both countries are quite interested in the crucial meeting as there have been widespread speculations regarding India’s probable role in the polls as well.

The alleged US interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh is a hot topic in the politics of the country.

India is concerned about the general election in Bangladesh, regional peace and stability as well the possibility of rise of militancy in Bangladesh. There have been discussions regarding these issues at different levels. It is being assumed that the two prime ministers will discuss regional politics in the meeting as well.

Bangladesh will discuss the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), guarantee of a quota for the import of seven food items, sharing of Teesta water and energy, and line of credit during the meeting.

Sheikh Hasina is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with other heads of state and government, including Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of Argentina Alberto Angel Fernandez, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mohamed Bin Zayed tomorrow.

The prime minister will return home on Sunday afternoon after attending some official programmes in New Delhi in the morning of that day. French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka from Delhi on the same day.

The countdown to the G20 Summit has begun with Sherpas getting down to draft of the final communiqué trying to bridge the differences within the group of developed and emerging economies on a range of issues, including inducting the African Union, an influential bloc of 55 countries, into the G20 as proposed by India but that has been red-flagged by some members of the grouping.

The Sherpas, envoys of their respective leaders, will also seek to forge consensus on the most contentious issues — references to the Russia-Ukraine war as well as what approach to take on climate change, energy transition debt resolution for stressed nations — areas where China is the main stumbling block.

Indian negotiators are seeking to evolve a consensus, saying they are optimistic about most issues. India is also hopeful of the prospect of joint communiqué though the Ukraine war has emerged a deal breaker with the G7 countries, including the US, insisting on a reference to the war in the communiqué and Russia and China opposing any such move.

The differences among the G20 member countries have meant that a communiqué, reflecting a consensus on all issues, has not been issued at any of the ministerial meetings during India’s Presidency. Instead, the members have settled for outcome documents and chair’s summary, with footnotes pointing to the wide gulf on Ukraine.

The Ukraine conflict had split the membership even in the run-up to last year’s summit in Indonesia but India helped hammer out a consensus resulting in the Bali Declaration being issued.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap but it’s a difficult issue and is dictated more by domestic politics in these two blocs,” said a diplomat. India has insisted that the focus should be on development and the group should not get bogged down by the issue of war.

Source: The Daily SUN.

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