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All eyes on G20 meeting in New Delhi as Blinken confirms participation after Russia’s Lavrov

A file photo of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Image courtesy: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in New Delhi next week for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, an event where he will come face-to-face with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict which completes one year today.

Blinken will first travel to Kazakhstan on February 28 where he will participate in a C5+1 Ministerial with representatives of the five Central Asian states in Astana. He will then travel to Uzbekistan’s Tashkent before arriving in New Delhi on March 1.

The G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, said the US State Department earlier today, will focus on strengthening multilateralism and deepening cooperation on food and energy security, sustainable development, counter-narcotics, global health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“He (Blinken) will also meet with Indian government officials and civil society to reaffirm our strong partnership,” said a statement issued by the State Department’s spokesperson.

Antony Blinken
National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, earlier this month (Image courtesy: Twitter/@SecBlinken)

Moscow, on the other hand, has already stated that it considers the G20 platform as a key forum for global governance.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry has detailed that in the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, which will be held under the unifying slogan of the Indian chairmanship about the commonality of the planet and its future, it is planned to touch upon the issues of capacity building and reform of international institutions, strengthening the positions of developing states in making collective decisions.

“The demand for diplomatic dialogue through the G20 has increased significantly against the backdrop of a progressive confrontation in international relations, growing risks for the global economy, and de facto bullying by Western political regimes,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in Moscow ahead of Lavrov’s March 1-3 visit to New Delhi.

Russia has also said that a number of regional topics will be touched upon during Lavrov’s scheduled meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, including the formation of a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, the state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the situation in Ukraine.

Sergei Lavrov
India-Russia ties are characterised by a consistent ability to identify and update shared interests (Image Courtesy: MFA Russia)

They are also expected to exchange assessments of topical international issues, including interaction under the Indian chairmanship of the SCO and the G20, as well as coordination of approaches in the UN, BRICS and RIC (Russia, India, China).

“The conceptual framework of the upcoming discussions set by the Indians corresponds to the logic of the formation of a polycentric world economic system.

“On the Russian side, it is meant to focus on building equal and mutually respectful interstate cooperation, reaffirm the central role of the UN and international law, once again draw attention to the perniciousness of illegitimate sanctions, unfair competition, protectionism and the urgency in this regard of collective opposition to Western domination and neo-colonial practices,” said Zakharova.

Meanwhile, a string of top officials from the Joe Biden administration have been to India recently with the US President also speaking with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone on February 14 after the announcement of a landmark agreement between Air India and Boeing to purchase over 200 American-made aircraft.

Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the deepening of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership which has resulted in robust growth in all domains.

The call took place at a time when the US State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources Assistant Secretary Geoffrey Pyatt was visiting Mumbai, Pune, and New Delhi to further strategic cooperation during India’s ongoing G-20 Presidency.

Both New Delhi and Washington also expressed a keen desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation in space, semi-conductors, supply chains, defence co-production and co-development and knowledge and innovation ecosystems during the first meeting of the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) held recently in the US capital.

Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with the US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen in Bengaluru on Thursday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@FinMinIndia)

In Bengaluru on Thursday, the US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen met with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, stressing the United States’ support for India’s G20 presidency.

While discussing cooperation on the evolution of multilateral development banks, encouraged strengthened health-finance coordination, Yellen thanked India for taking a leadership role on promoting sovereign debt restructuring.

Also Read: Russian Foreign Minister to arrive in New Delhi next week — Ukraine, regional security on agenda