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G20 communique urges 'all' to honor 'international law'

Published September 9, 2023last updated September 9, 2023

G20 leaders have adopted a joint declaration that contains vague wording amid divisions over Russia's war in Ukraine. The AU was also welcomed into the group as the summit got underway in New Delhi. DW has more.

Mohammed bin Salman, Narendra Modi und Joe Biden at the G20 summit in New Dehli.
India is hosting the leaders of the G20 major economies for their annual summit this weekendImage: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters/AP/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) advanced and emerging economic powers are meeting in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Saturday and Sunday, with the host nation facing the challenge of finding an international consensus despite deep geopolitical divisions over Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement that did not directly condemn Moscow for its invasion, the leaders called on all states to  "act in a manner consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN charter in its entirety."

The communique also failed to call for a phaseout of the fossil fuels whose use is largely driving global warming, despite a UN stocktaking report on Friday that said stopping the burning of fossil fuels was an "indispensable" step to prevent ever more dangerous consequences of climate change.

US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, among others, are attending the summit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending, however, and has sent Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead. Chinese President Xi Jinping is being represented by Premier Li Qiang. 

Read DW's coverage of the G20 summit from Saturday, September 9, here:

Skip next section Germany's Scholz hails G20 declaration as a success
September 9, 2023

Germany's Scholz hails G20 declaration as a success

Olaf Scholz and Narendra Modi
Olaf Scholz being greeted by Narendra Modi upon arrival at the Bharat Mandapam convention centerImage: Evan Vucci/REUTERS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called the joint declaration from the G20 summit a success for having stressed the "territorial integrity" of all countries, despite its not explicitly condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Scholz told a press conference that it was an achievement "that in the end Russia gave up its resistance to such a resolution, simply because everyone else had moved in this direction." Scholz seemed to be referring to China — which has so far been ambivalent in its stance on the invasion — as one of the countries that had given its approval for the final wording.

The formulations in the document regarding the conflict in Ukraine did not impress Kyiv, but have been praised by Moscow as "balanced."

At last year's G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, leaders called on Russia to carry out a "complete and
unconditional withdrawal" from Ukraine.

G20 agrees on joint summit declaration

Skip next section Kyiv says G20 declaration on Ukraine 'nothing to be proud of'
September 9, 2023

Kyiv says G20 declaration on Ukraine 'nothing to be proud of'

Kyiv has strongly criticized the G20 leaders' statement for failing to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying Ukrainian participation in the summit would have helped those attending to understand the situation better.

In the statement, the leaders said no state should use force to seize territory from another, but they did not mention Russia by name.

"Ukraine is grateful to the partners who tried to include strong wording in the text. At the same time, in terms of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the Group of 20 has nothing to be proud of," said Oleg Nikolenko from the Ukrainian ministry.

Nikolenko posted a photo showing a part of the statement with changes marked in red, including replacing the wording "the war in Ukraine" with "the war against Ukraine." The edited version also contained references to Russia. 

The communique from the Delhi summit differed in its reticence from a G20 statement in Bali last year that cited a UN resolution condemning "in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine".

"It's obvious that the Ukraine's participation (in the meeting) would allow the participants to better understand the situation," Nikolenko said. 

Svetlana Lukash, a Russian negotiator at the summit, told journalists that the joint declaration was welcomed by Moscow.

She said that although there had been "very difficult negotations" about wording over Ukraine, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) had helped make the declaration "balanced."

Skip next section US' Biden announces 'big deal' rail and shipping project
September 9, 2023

US' Biden announces 'big deal' rail and shipping project

US President Joe Biden and several G20 partners have unveiled plans for a project that would see enhanced rail and shipping connections linking India with Europe via the Middle East.

 "This is a big deal," said Biden. "This is a really big deal."

The project would include India, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the European Union, said Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, with the endeavor being seen as a contribution toward normalizing ties between Israel and the Arab Gulf states.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the planned rail link would speed up trade between India and Europe by 40%.

"It is a green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations," she said.

The White House has so far declined to give details on the timeline and expected cost of the project, which is considered a counterbalance to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Skip next section G20 declaration touches on economy, climate change
September 9, 2023

G20 declaration touches on economy, climate change

G20 leaders meeting in New Delhi have called for measures to boost global economic stability and to combat climate change in their joint declaration.

They warned of "high levels of volatility in food and energy markets" while stressing the importance of "sustaining food and energy security."

They called for military destruction of relevant infrastructure to cease, a likely reference to recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports used for grain export.

On the global economy, the leaders pledged to "protect the vulnerable, through promoting equitable growth and enhancing macroneconomic and financial stability."

Climate change was also mentioned in the declaration, with leaders noting the "need to accelerate efforts to phasedown unabated coal power."

However, they tempered the urgency of that statement by saying such efforts should be "in line with national circumstances." 

The declaration also failed to commit to a phase-out of fossil fuels, which the UN called "indispensable" for reaching a net-zero goal in a global stocktaking report on climate progress on Friday.

G20 leaders meeting Saturday failed to commit to a phase-out of polluting fossil fuels, a requirement deemed "indispensable" just a day earlier by the United Nations to achieve a net-zero goal.

The leaders also said G20 nations would "work towards facilitating low-cost financing for
developing countries to support their transition to low carbon/emissions."

Skip next section Joint G20 communique cites UN charter over Ukraine conflict
September 9, 2023

Joint G20 communique cites UN charter over Ukraine conflict

G20 leaders have called on all states to  "act in a manner consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN charter in its entirety" while conceding that there were "different views and assessments of the situation in Ukraine."  

In a joint communique, they called on all states "to refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state."

They also said the "use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible."

The declaration reflects divisions within the group regarding Russia's unprovoked invasion of its neighbor, with several countries, including host nation India, refusing to join the majority of Western nations in unconditionally condemning Moscow's unlawful action.

Moscow, which is represented at the summit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, has also repeatedly made veiled and not-so-veiled threats to employ nuclear weapons if Russian territory comes under direct threat from the West.

Skip next section G20 leaders reach consensus on joint declaration, Modi says
September 9, 2023

G20 leaders reach consensus on joint declaration, Modi says

The G20 leaders have found a consensus on their joint declaration, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

"Because of our team's hard work, and with our support, there is a consensus on the New Delhi G20 Leaders' Summit Declaration," Modi said. "I announced the adoption of the declaration."

Exact information regarding the joint communique has not been given yet. The declaration comes amid a divide among the leaders over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Reuters news agency reported that G20 delegates found a compromise on language to describe the conflict in Ukraine.         

Skip next section G20 partners plan vast trade network to counter China's Belt and Road
September 9, 2023

G20 partners plan vast trade network to counter China's Belt and Road

Yellow inspection train running on the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway trial section to conduct inspection in Bandung, Indonesia
The new project by G20 partners is seen as countering China's BRI with its high-speed rail, as seen here in IndonesiaImage: Xu Qin/Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

The EU, the US, India, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, with others, are set to announce a vast transport infrastructure project to facilitate trade from India to Europe via the Middle East, according to US officials.

The project, to be unveiled at the G20 meeting on Saturday, is being seen as a counterbalance to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has helped spread Chinese influence across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The planned rail, shipping and communications links would increase connectivity between regions that account for about a third of the global economy.

As well as boosting trade, the agreement is being seen as another major step toward the normalization of relations between Arab Gulf states and Israel.  

Skip next section India's PM invites African Union to join G20
September 9, 2023

India's PM invites African Union to join G20

Indian PM Narendra Modi said in his G20 opening speech on Saturday that the group has agreed to make the African Union a permanent member.

"With everyone's approval, I request the AU head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member," Modi said in his opening speech at the G20 event. The Indian leader shook hands with the current AU chair, Comoros President Azali Assoumani. 

There has been a high degree of support for adding the AU to the G20 and it now becomes the second regional bloc to become a permanent member after the European Union.

The decision to include the AU is expected to strengthen the position of the Global South, which has been something Modi has been pushing for.

US President Joe Biden last year called for the AU's inclusion in the G20, saying it's been "a long time in coming." 

AU Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat hailed the bloc's entry into the EU on messaging network X, formerly known as Twitter.

 "I welcome the African Union's entry into the G20 as full member. This membership, for which we have long been advocating, will provide a propitious framework for amplifying advocacy in favor of the Continent and its effective contribution to meeting global challenges," he wrote.

Kenyan President William Ruto said the AU's entry into the G20 will "give African interests and perspectives voice and visibility in this important body."

Skip next section Von der Leyen names conditions for G20 summit joint declaration
September 9, 2023

Von der Leyen names conditions for G20 summit joint declaration

Shortly before the start of the G20 summit in India, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set conditions for the approval of a final declaration.

"It is important that we maintain the principles, the basic principles," she said in an interview with ARD and ZDF in New Delhi.

This includes, for example, that there must be a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, the inviolability of borders, but also that annexed areas are not internationally recognized.

"We also defend these basic principles and they must be included in the communiqué," she said.

However, it is unclear whether there will be a joint final declaration, as Russia, with the backing of China, wants to prevent the text from criticizing it for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Skip next section Biden, Modi say India should have permanent Security Council seat
September 9, 2023

Biden, Modi say India should have permanent Security Council seat

US President Joe Biden meets with India s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the G20 summit
Joe Biden and Narendra Modi agreed that India should have permanent UN Security Council seatImage: India's PM Press Office/ UPI Photo/IMAGO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his highest-profile guest at the summit, US President Joe Biden, held one-on-one talks soon after Biden's arrival. 

According to the joint statement from the two governments, Biden and Modi "reaffirm[ed] support for India as a permanent UN Security Council member." 

The Security Council has only ever had five permanent members, all of whom wield effective veto power, since the UN was founded — France, the UK, the US, China, and the Soviet Union and then Russia thereafter.

Biden's attendance so soon after Modi's state visit to Washington was seen as a sign of the White House trying to improve ties with India as an emerging and more democratic major player in world affairs.

As well as recommending adding India to the most powerful subgroup of UN members, the statement emphasized the US and India's "shared values" of democracy, freedom, human rights and inclusion. 

India set to host summit of G20 leaders in Delhi

Skip next section More G20 summit coverage from DW
September 9, 2023

More G20 summit coverage from DW

A tight security blanket and movement restrictions have been imposed across the spruced-up city of New Delhi as India hosts its final leaders' G20 summit.

So far, the Modi government hosted 215 G20 meetings in over 55 locations this year. 

Earlier in May, Pakistan slammed India for hosting one of its tourism-related G20 meetings in India-administered Kashmir

Pakistan said New Delhi is exploiting its membership to advance a "self-serving" agenda. 

Meanwhile, in July, when Robert Habeck, Germany's economy and climate action minister, visited India to attend a G20 meeting of energy ministers, he told DW that he was optimistic about collaboration with India on energy issues and hoped for a free trade deal between the EU and India.

He also said that while he respected India's own "tradition and partnership with Russia," the country cannot remain neutral while the war is ongoing.

DW speaks to Germany's Vice-Chancellor Habeck on India visit

Earlier in the year, the G20 foreign ministers' meeting ended with arguments over Ukraine and no joint statement was released. 

During the previous G20 summit in Bali, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the gathering via video, but Modi has not invited Ukraine to participate in this year's meeting.

Russia's Putin also decided not to attend the summit

Amid worsening relations between India and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping also said that he will not be attending the summit

dh/sri (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)