India off to very promising start with its stewardship of G20: US

WASHINGTON: India is off to a very promising start with its stewardship of the G-20, the United States said Thursday after New Delhi hosted a highly successful meeting of the grouping’s foreign ministers.
“We are deeply grateful to our Indian partners for the way they have led the G-20 to date. And as you alluded to, there is a lot more work to be done over the course of this year, but India is off to a very promising start with its stewardship of the G-20,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference.
The India-US partnership was a subject of discussion between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in New Delhi, Price said, describing the ties with India as one of the most consequential relationships the US has.
“And that’s because we work closely with India on just about everything that is a priority to us and everything that is a priority to India, increasing our mutual prosperity, supporting democracy, addressing the climate crisis, upholding a rules-based order grounded in international law,” he said.
“It is that point, the rules-based order, that is so important to us around the world, but particularly important to the United States and to India in the context of the Indo-Pacific,” he said. “It is helping to build and to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a vision that we share with Indian counterparts.”
Blinken and Jaishankar discussed the work India has done so far in hosting the G-20 foreign ministers and finance ministers, and creating an agenda that allows them to tackle the key issues of global and strategic partnerships.
The G-20 is an important instrument for India and the US, Price said. “We have seen how the G-20 can bring together countries for collective action. We think what we’ve seen in India over the past couple of days was no exception. The United States, for our part, participated in this foreign minister meeting with two imperatives in mind — first to see to it that the G-20, again with India at the helm, was a success, which clearly it was,” Price said.
“And second, to demonstrate how the United States, together with our partners is working collaboratively to build a world that is more prosperous, is more sustainable, it is more inclusive in terms of the global economy, and that delivers for the needs of people around the world, whether that’s food, whether that’s energy, whether that is health, whether that is helping people around the world confront the challenges and threats that they face from fentanyl and narcotics, to a changing climate to COVID and to everything in between,” he said.
Responding to a question, the State Department spokesperson said that there are countries around the world that have a relationship with Russia that is distinct from the one the US has. “India certainly falls within that category. India has longstanding historical ties to Russia. It is connected in Russia to ways that the United States is not and, for that matter, has not been,” he said.
“India also has tremendous leverage in different areas, whether it’s economic leverage, diplomatic leverage, political leverage, but also moral leverage. India has the ability we’ve seen from Prime Minister Modi to speak with tremendous moral clarity. When Prime Minister Modi said last year that this is not an era of war, the world listened, as they should, because when Prime Minister Modi and his country say something to that effect, it is meaningful to the United States,” Price said.
He said India has a unique role to play not only as the G-20 host, but also as a country with whom “we have a global strategic partnership, a country that has a relationship with Russia that we don’t”.
He also referred to the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi being unable to come out with a joint communique due to bitterly increasing rift between the US-led Western powers and Russia over the Ukraine conflict despite consistent efforts by host India to bridge the differences.
The meeting adopted a Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document listing various key priorities, but External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said there were differences over the Ukraine conflict because of which the meeting could not agree on the joint communique.
Price said, “Of course, this was a chair of summary that was subscribed to by all 20 members of the G-20, except for two key paragraphs. We all know those two countries in question, Russia and China. We all know the issue in question, Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,” he said.
“But when it comes to the broader set of issues that neither Russia nor China could agree to accept, I think it was pretty notable that the key paragraph referenced the essential need to uphold international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability,” he said.
Price asserted it is a paragraph that speaks to defending, protecting the principles of the UN Charter, ensuring that countries around the world adhere to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and infrastructure in armed conflict, and that makes clear where countries stand in strongly condemning the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in any conflict.
The fact that neither Russia nor China could sign on to a paragraph that should be as anodyne and common sense and basic as that, it tells you a lot about the two countries that purport to believe in the UN Charter, have been permanent members of the UN Security Council, consistently raise international law and the principles of the UN Charter only to ignore them in contexts like this, he said.

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