NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) countries opened talks on the island of Bali on Tuesday, with host Indonesia calling for unity and concrete actions to fix the global economy despite deep rifts. about the war in Ukraine.
“We have no other choice, collaboration is necessary to save the world,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in opening remarks, before leaders of the world’s richest nations began closed-door discussions.
“The G20 must be the catalyst for an inclusive economic recovery. We must not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to descend into another cold war.”
The G20, which includes countries ranging from Brazil to India, Saudi Arabia and Germany, accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and 60% of its population .
A positive sign on the eve of the summit was a three-hour bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in which the two leaders pledged to communicate more frequently despite the many differences
Monday’s meeting was the first time the two had met in person since Biden became president, and the talks appeared to signal an improvement in relations between the superpowers after a downward spiral in recent months.
The war in Ukraine and a global rise in inflation are overshadowing the summit, the first time it has been held since Russia invaded its neighbor in February.
The invasion prompted some Western leaders to call for a boycott of the summit and the withdrawal of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation.
Indonesia resisted, refusing to withdraw Putin’s invitation and also rejecting what Indonesian sources say has been pressure from G7 countries to condemn Russia at this week’s summit.
Russia has said Putin was too busy to attend the summit with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov taking his place. Lavrov on Monday dismissed a news agency report that he had been taken to hospital in Bali with a heart condition and was present at the meeting.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the summit via video link, according to a tweet from the EU ambassador to Indonesia.
A joint G20 communiqué, which would have to be agreed by all sides, appears unlikely, with Indonesia instead pushing for a statement from the leaders, diplomatic sources say.
However, European Council President Charles Michel said there was agreement between officials on a text message on Monday evening, which he described as “positive”.
G20 leaders will denounce the use of nuclear weapons or any threat to use them, according to an early draft seen by Reuters.
However, this statement should be confirmed by the leaders.
Meetings of G20 ministers have failed to produce joint communiqués because of disagreement between Russia and other members over language, including over how to describe the war in Ukraine.
HEART OF THE OPPOSITION
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday that the Putin regime would listen to the chorus of global opposition to its actions. Sunak will call on the G20 for coordinated action to address economic instability and the rising cost of living in the wake of Russia’s invasion, his government said.
Biden will be “unapologetic” in his defense of Ukraine, US officials have said.
“I won’t get ahead of the final negotiations, but the G20 will make it clear that Russia’s war is wreaking havoc on people everywhere and on the global economy as a whole,” said one official, speaking on the US view on the summit on anonymity.
But Xi and Putin have grown closer in recent years and reaffirmed their partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. However, China has been careful not to provide any direct material support that could trigger Western sanctions against it.
On Tuesday, Xi told French President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting that China advocated a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks, Chinese state media reported.
Biden and Xi “underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine” during their meeting, according to a White House statement. A statement from the Chinese foreign minister said Xi told Biden that nuclear weapons cannot be used and that nuclear wars cannot be fought.
Ukrainian lawmaker Zelenskiy on Monday afternoon welcomed “weighty statements” that had been made ahead of the G20, including those on the inadmissibility of threats to use nuclear weapons.
The West has accused Russia of making irresponsible statements about the possible use of nuclear weapons since its invasion of Ukraine in February. In turn, Russia has accused the West of “provocative” nuclear rhetoric.
On the sidelines of the summit, many of the leaders will hold bilateral talks, including many of them meeting with Xi, who is making only his second visit abroad since the start of the pandemic.
After the meeting with Macron, Xi is scheduled to hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and later with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as China tries to reduce friction with the States United and its allies.
“It’s not decisive, but an important step in trying to reduce disagreements,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.
(Reporting by Franciska Nangoy, Stanley Widianto, Nandita Bose, Leika Kihara, David Lawder and Simon Lewis in Nusa Dua, Kate Lamb in Sydney and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)