G20: India confident of a joint Delhi Declaration; says it's almost ready

Declaration will be recommended to leaders and they will then accept it, says sherpa

Amitabh-Kant-sherpa-sanjay G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant | Sanjay Ahlawat

The Delhi Declaration is a work in progress. Negotiations are still on. But India is confident that no other document would have a stronger voice for the Global South and developing countries.

“The New Delhi leaders' declaration is almost ready, I would not like to dwell on it,’’ G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said at a press conference. “This declaration will be recommended to the leaders and the leaders will then accept it, and only after that we will be able to talk about the actual achievements of the declaration.”

However, one of the agendas that India hopes to get everyone on board is the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member.

While questions on consensus were sidestepped as were queries on President Xi Jinping's absence. It is no secret that China and Russia have been displeased about the language of Ukraine in the G20 meetings. “The journey of the joint declaration has only just started,’’ said Kant. He, however, chose to emphasize that China is a “multilateral player’’ and bilateral issues are different. “The challenge of any multilateral discussion is you have to bring consensus across every issue as every country has veto power. We have been able to work with every single country and bring them on board."

Whether this hints at India inching towards a consensus still remains to be seen. Kant is not the only negotiator trying to find consensus. Brazil and South Africa are also trying to work behind the scenes to forge commonality. “We will support India’s ambition to get a joint communique, given the issues the world is facing at the moment. Obviously, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also some of the issues around food security, sustainability, global health," British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said in an interview to Times of India.

The European Union too has thrown its weight behind trying India to craft a joint statement. “We hope that it will be possible to have a communique and there is no secret about the position that the EU is defending around the table regarding the war launched by Russia against Ukraine,’’ European Council President Charles Michel said in a media briefing in the national capital recently.

While the West has made its red lines on Ukraine clear, Russia too, has minced no words about the inclusion of Ukraine. In a press interaction, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov stressed the consensus since the creation of the G20 that the bloc should focus on economic and financial matters. Russia did not accept discussion of political issues within the G20, he said, and added that items on which there is no consensus should be removed so that the grouping can discuss topical matters such as climate change, sustainable development and the financial and food crises.

This is very much the argument that Kant made at the press conference too. G20 was an economic platform, he said. In Bali it was felt that the war impact on food and fertilizer was touched upon. This year too, its impact was felt on SDGs. Could this hint at a possible way out? Only Sunday will tell.

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