India’s G20 presidency resulted in ‘99% agreement on substantive issues’: Kant
India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant appeared upbeat at the end of the discussions on Saturday, telling a media briefing that the Indian presidency was making better progress than Indonesia’s presidency in 2022 when there were no detailed negotiations on key issues till shortly before the leaders’ summit in Bali
A sustained push by the Indian side at the G20 Sherpas’ meeting in Kumarakom has raised hopes of consensus being forged on crucial issues by the time of the leaders’ summit in September though people familiar with the matter said much will also depend on how the Ukraine crisis plays out.
The issue of finding a way forward on G20 outcome documents- an issue that affected the finance minister’s meeting in Bengaluru and the foreign minister’s meeting in New Delhi in recent weeks– was the focus of the first session of talks among the G20 sherpas or personal envoys of heads of state and government at a resort on the banks of Vembanad lake on Saturday.
The second session in the afternoon focused on green development, including energy transitions, environment, climate sustainability and disaster risk reduction. These discussions centred on ways to find long-term solutions for the funding of climate transition, especially in developing countries without greater access to credit.
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India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant appeared upbeat at the end of the discussions on Saturday, telling a media briefing that the Indian presidency was making better progress than Indonesia’s presidency in 2022 when there were no detailed negotiations on key issues till shortly before the leaders’ summit in Bali.
The detailed negotiations under India’s G20 presidency had resulted in “99% agreement on substantive issues” at the meetings of both the finance and foreign ministers. Two paragraphs to describe the war in Ukraine, which were agreed upon at the last G20 Summit, remained contentious. “These are open for discussion, on which we are strategising what needs to be done,” he said.
Kant said the Indian side had worked out several strategies and backup plans to deal with the situation. “We are very hopeful that something will surely work in the interest of G20,” he added.
“The remaining 1% is not in the hand of India. We have not created a scenario like that, it’s somebody else [that] has created a scenario like that,” he said in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We will do our best, we are working on several options and I can assure that we will leave nothing to chance. We will work out everything but what is not in your hand,” he added.
People familiar with the matter said that several “sofa talk” sessions arranged for the G20 sherpas by Kant since Thursday had helped the senior officials to have deliberations on sensitive issues in an informal setting, thereby increasing the possibility of out-of-the-box thinking and solutions. The people also pointed out that there had been no walkouts during G20 meetings hosted by India, unlike in the case of meetings hosted in Bali last year.
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“The focus is on finding new text to describe the war in Ukraine since both Russia and China say the situation has changed since the G20 leaders’ declaration in Bali. This is a work in progress and we are hopeful of finding a solution by the summit in Delhi in September,” one of the people cited above said.
“The issue here is not ending the war – that has to be done by the parties involved or at the UN. Our focus is also on delivering ambitious and action-oriented outcomes in matters that are important for developing countries, such as funding climate transition,” the person added.
However, the people acknowledged that the situation will become more complicated if the war in Ukraine were to take a turn for the worse. “Then all bets will be off,” a second person said.