The G20 sherpas are drafting the final communique with the aim to bridging the differences within the developed and emerging economies on a range of issues, including inducting the African Union as part of the elite club that has been red-flagged by some members of the cohort.
The sherpas, who are envoys of their respective leaders, will also seek to forge consensus on the stance to be taken regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, and the approach to take on climate change, energy transition debt resolution for stressed nations — areas where China is the main stumbling block.
As the G20 summit starts over the weekend in Delhi, PM Modi called upon to stay united and tackle multiple challenges, underlining that conflicts across regions must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue, and India will support every effort to ensure peace.
Indian officials are confident that the African Union — a bloc of 55 countries — will be inducted into the group. PM Narendra Modi had written to his counterparts proposing that the African Union be given full membership of the group, which found widespread support despite some reservations expressed by a few countries.
The PM said, “Africa is a top priority even within the G20. One of the first things we did during our G20 presidency was to hold the Voice of the Global South summit, which had enthusiastic participation from Africa. We believe no plan for the future of the planet can be successful without the representation and recognition of all voices.
Indian negotiators are seeking to evolve a consensus. “On most issues, we are optimistic,” said an official. India is also hopeful of a joint communique although the Ukraine war has emerged a deal breaker with the G7 countries, including the US insisting on a reference to the war in the communique and Russia and China opposing it.
The differences have meant that a communique — reflecting a consensus on all issues — has not been issued at any of the ministerial meetings during India’s presidency. Instead, the members have settled for outcome documents and chair’s summary, with footnotes pointing to the wide gulf on Ukraine.
The Ukraine conflict had split the membership even in the run-up to last year’s leaders’ summit in Indonesia, but India helped hammer out a consensus resulting in the Bali Declaration. “We are trying to bridge the gap but it’s a difficult issue and is dictated more by domestic politics in these two blocs,” said the official. India has insisted that the focus should be on development and the group should not get bogged down by the issue of war.
China has also emerged as a major stumbling block for the group as India has tried to evolve a consensus. Sources said Beijing has been red-flagging several issues which India has been pushing for a consensus, including on the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, women-led development, digital public infrastructure, LiFe. Sources said China has been trying to influence other members of the group to block proposals from India or to ensure that issues are pushed back to the next presidency under Brazil.
This is the fourth and final meeting of the sherpas in the lead-up to the leaders’ summit on Saturday-Sunday in the national capital.