World

G20 talks: Ukraine war overshadows ministerial meeting

Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia –

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 top rich and developing nations are gathering on the Indonesian resort island of Bali for talks dominated by the conflict in Ukraine despite a centralized agenda into global cooperation and food and energy security.

The day-long gathering will take place on Friday on the predominantly Hindu “island of the gods” in the Muslim-majority nation.

Underscoring the lingering tension after the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and top Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov stopped at various Asian capitals on their way to Bali, bolstering their support for China. support and strengthen their ties in the region before the talks.

The United States and its allies have sought to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin in as many ways as possible, including threatening to boycott the G-20 summit in Bali in November unless Mr. Forum.

So, as the chair of this year’s G-20, Indonesia has been forced to play a more constructive role on the world stage rather than just acting as an “event organizer”. The country has sought to remain neutral in its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and President Joko Widodo has been defended in his comments.

Widodo was the first Asian leader to visit warring countries. Ukraine is not a member of the G-20, but Mr. Widodo has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend a summit in November with Putin, in the hope of appeasing all parties and keeping any distractions out. forum agenda.

Zelenskyy has said he will not attend if the fight continues after that and has opted to follow the discussions by video link. Mr. Widodo told Italian Prime Minister Marion Draghi, on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Germany, that Mr. Putin would not come either. Moscow says a decision has yet to be made.

That apparent compromise could be tested as G-20 foreign ministers gather in Bali’s heavily guarded tourist paradise Nusa Dua to lay the groundwork for the 17th major powers summit. Western economy.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing are also evident: On Wednesday, China launched a fierce attack on the US and NATO, just days before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese foreign minister met in Bali .

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing “only follow international rules as it sees fit. “The so-called rules-based international order is really a family rule made by a number of countries to serve the personal interests of the United States,” he said.

The main goal of the talks will be to find ways to improve food security at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated global markets, driving up prices for meat, dairy products, grains, sugar and edible oils. objects go higher.

“These visits are important not only for Indonesians but also for other developing countries to prevent people in developing and low-income countries from falling into poverty,” Mr. Widodo told reporters in Jakarta. into extreme poverty”. .

Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world’s wheat exports, and Ukraine alone grows enough grain to feed 400 million people. But Moscow’s blockade means Kyiv can only ship 2 million tonnes a month, 60% less than usual.

Millions of tons of Ukraine’s grain are lying in bunkers waiting to be transported through the secure corridors of the Black Sea. Ukraine is also one of the world’s largest exporters of corn and sunflower oil, but the Russian invasion has blocked much of that flow. Such disruptions threaten food supplies for many developing countries, particularly in Africa.

The crisis is causing inflationary effects in Indonesia, including flour shortages that are forcing local companies to raise prices for politically sensitive instant noodles, a hugely popular staple. of Indonesia.

Russia has pledged to increase wheat exports to Indonesia. Last year, this amount was only 2,955 tons compared with 3 million tons imported from Ukraine.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters that it is important to achieve the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine and food and fertilizer exports from Russia to end shortages and reduce prices. .

The soaring cost of cooking oil has prompted Indonesia, besieged by student protests over soaring food prices, to temporarily ban the export of palm oil products. Exports of crude palm oil, used in a variety of foods, cosmetics and other products, resumed a month later.

Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia are the world’s largest exporters of palm oil, accounting for 85% of global production.

The foreign ministers to Bali on Thursday came from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom. United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Blinken is scheduled to meet Wang, Beijing’s top envoy, on Saturday. The meeting will be the latest high-level contact between US and Chinese officials as Washington questions China’s stance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two sides may also discuss whether the administration of President Joe Biden could lift US tariffs on goods imported from China as it tries to fight inflation.

While in Bali, Foreign Minister Lavrov will hold meetings with his counterparts from other countries, including China, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil on the sidelines of the G-20 foreign ministers. He also plans to consult with invited leaders of international organizations, according to the Russian Embassy in Jakarta.

The members of the G-20 account for about 80% of world economic output, two-thirds of the world’s population, and about three-quarters of global trade.

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