June 18, 2024

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Biden heads to New Delhi for the G-20 summit amid rising global tensions

Biden heads to New Delhi for the G-20 summit amid rising global tensions
  • Russia’s war in Ukraine, climate change, the economy and aid to developing countries will be high on the president’s agenda when he meets with other world leaders.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will be absent from the summit for the second year in a row, as will Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • The G20 accounts for 85% of global GDP, 75% of international trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.

US President Joe Biden looks on as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a meeting with senior officials and CEOs of US and Indian companies, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 23, 2023.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden will travel to New Delhi, India to meet the world’s largest economies at the G-20 summit and once again flex his muscles as chief diplomat.

Throughout his presidency, Biden has preached the gospel of diplomacy and multilateralism, assuring America’s friends and rivals that the rule of law and alliances can serve as a bulwark against the rise of authoritarianism.

“The United States’ commitment to the G-20 has not wavered, and we hope this G-20 summit shows that the world’s major economies can work together even in difficult times,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

The G20 accounts for 85% of global GDP, 75% of international trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population. Sullivan said Russia’s war in Ukraine, climate change, the economy and aid to developing countries will be high on the president’s agenda when he meets with other world leaders.

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Biden nearly missed attending the event in person after his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, tested positive for Covid-19 over Labor Day weekend. The president will continue his trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday before traveling to Alaska to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks.

The leaders of two leading members, Russia and China, will not attend. Russian President Vladimir Putin will be absent from the summit for the second year in a row, as will Chinese President Xi Jinping. And the two leaders send other officials in their absence.

A man walks past a facility on a skywalk ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, September 6, 2023.

Francis Mascarenhas | Reuters

This will be the first G20 summit without a Chinese president since its inauguration in 2008; Attend virtually during the coronavirus pandemic. The conference has long been described as a possible meeting point for Biden and Xi, who last met at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November. On Sunday, Biden said he was “disappointed” with Xi’s decision, but added that he would “meet with him,” without elaborating. Xi attended the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, last month.

China did not say why Xi did not attend, but host country India and China have deep tensions dating back to an incident in 2020 on their Himalayan border that killed 24 people.

Putin has not left Russia since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him in March for war crimes in Ukraine. Even without the Russian leader at the summit, the country’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to remain at the forefront of discussions.

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As happened last year, Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to cause disagreements among members and complicate the process of signing a joint statement, especially with Xi Jinping bypassed. It was only with careful wording that the group was able to reach consensus on a joint statement in Indonesia condemning the war. Not doing so would be the first time the group has not issued a joint statement.

Sullivan said Biden would again call for a peaceful solution to the war.

“The reality is that Russia’s illegal war has had devastating social and economic consequences, and the poorest countries on the planet are bearing the brunt,” Sullivan said. “As he has done before, President Biden will call for a just and lasting peace, a peace based on respect for international law,” he added.