THE absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin from the upcoming G20 summit in New Delhi has offered an opportunity to India and the US to not only hog the limelight but also drive the agenda of the high-profile multilateral event. With Joe Biden looking forward to his first visit to India as the US President, the two nations will be keen to showcase their growing ties and take their bilateral engagement to the next level. Though Biden has expressed disappointment over President Xi not attending the Delhi summit, he will be keen to make the most of the situation. Regarding the two prominent absentees, India has made it clear that the focus should be on the position taken by the countries on key issues, not on the ‘levels of representation’.
Even as the G20 nations are set to hold discussions on globally relevant issues such as food security, debt restructuring and cooperation on climate change, the elephant in the room will obviously be the Russia-Ukraine war. Over the past year and a half, India has deftly walked a diplomatic tightrope on the raging conflict in eastern Europe. It goes to the credit of both New Delhi and Washington that they have not allowed their differences on this matter to impact their strong bilateral relationship.
Though China has stated that it is ‘ready to work with all parties’ to make the Delhi summit a success, it would be unreasonable to expect Beijing to toe the India-US line regarding consensus on the Leaders’ Declaration — the joint statement that has often proved to be a contentious issue at G20 summits. The same would hold true for China’s close ally Russia. Undoubtedly, India and America will remain wary of possible attempts by Beijing and Moscow to play spoilsport on the G20 platform.
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