Jaishankar to visit Indonesia on July 7 to attend G20 Foreign Ministers’ meet

Jaishankar to visit Indonesia on July 7 to attend G20 Foreign Ministers’ meet

Meetings ahead of two summits this year, where PM Modi will come face to face with Chinese President Xi Jinping for first time since LAC standoff

External Affairs Minister is expected to attend the G-20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali this week along with Chinese FM Wang Yi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as Ministers of the world’s largest economies are hosted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

The meeting on July 7-8 comes ahead of two summits: the G-20 summit in November this year, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Heads of State Council in Uzbekistan in September, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the April 2020 standoff at the Line of Actual Control. Pakistan’s new PM Shehbaz Sharif is also expected to attend the SCO Council meeting on September 15-16.

Diplomatic sources told The Hindu that both summits will be held in person for the first time since the Covid pandemic and Prime Minister Modi has already been invited to both. India will host the SCO meet and the G-20 Summit in 2023, making Mr. Modi’s presence more important.

Later this month, Mr. Jaishankar will also attend the SCO Foreign Minister’s meeting in Tashkent on July 28-29 which will set up the SCO Heads of State Council meeting due to be held in the historic city of Samarkhand on September 15-16 this year, where PM Modi is invited along with Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi, Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif and heads of Central Asian States.

A high-level meeting on Afghanistan will also be held in Tashkent on July 27-28, where NSA Doval or Mr. Jaishankar will attend, the first time India will speak at the forum after re-opening the Indian Mission in Kabul under the Taliban regime last month. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto is also expected to attend the SCO meetings. While Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi have not spoken or met directly once since the LAC standoff and the Galwan killings, they have attended multilateral events in virtual format in the past two years. Prior to that the two leaders had met 18 times, many of those on the sidelines of SCO, G-20 and BRICS summits.

Announcing Mr. Jaishankar’s visit to Bali on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs said he will hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other G-20 members states and invited countries, but officials declined to confirm whether a separate bilateral meeting would be held with the Chinese FM. This is the first time both Ministers will see each other since Mr. Wang’s visit to Delhi in March this year. In Washington, the US state department announced that Mr. Blinken would meet Mr. Wang on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting.

The meeting will also mark the first time Mr. Lavrov will come face to face with many of the G-20 leaders since the Russian war in Ukraine began in February, and the interactions will be watched closely, given that the US and Europe had earlier demanded that Russia be suspended from the G-20 or they would boycott meetings where Russian participants speak. Last week, Indonesian President Joko Widodo travelled to Kyiv and Moscow to try and effect a working solution for the G-20 meetings, where Russian President Putin has confirmed his attendance and Ukrainian President Zelensky has been invited as a special guest.

The MEA said Mr. Jaishankar’s visit to Bali would “strengthen India’s engagement with G20 member states”, given India is slated to take over the G20 Presidency in December this year, and host the G20 summit in November 2023 in Delhi. “We are currently extending steadfast support to the Indonesian Presidency, and will be taking forward discussions on contemporary global challenges, with a view to achieving meaningful outcomes, during our Presidency,” an MEA statement on Tuesday said, adding that “strengthening multilateralism and current global challenges including food and energy security” were on the agenda in an indication of the prevailing global situation post-Ukraine war.

The G-20 is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

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