Russia's President Putin to attend G-20 leaders summit: Australia

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) will attend the Group of 20 leaders' summit in November, despite concerns about Russia's actions in Ukraine in recent months. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) will attend the Group of 20 leaders' summit in November, despite concerns about Russia's actions in Ukraine in recent months. -- PHOTO: AFP 

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the Group of 20 leaders' summit in November, despite concerns about Russia's actions in Ukraine in recent months.

Australia's confirmation that the Russian leader would attend the high-powered summit came after Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said he would also meet Mr Putin next week.

"I spoke with the Finance Minister of Russia only yesterday... and he did confirm that President Putin will be coming to the G-20 leaders' summit in Brisbane," Mr Hockey told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday morning. "That has certainly been the consensus of other members of the G-20 that President Putin should attend. And I think there will be some full and frank dialogue with President Putin at that meeting."

Mr Hockey added that it was "certainly the strong view of the president of the US, the chancellor of Germany and others that he should be attending".

There were question marks over whether Mr Putin would take part due to the six-month conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 3,300 people.

Opposition to his attendance intensified after Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Kiev and the West have accused Moscow-backed separatists of shooting it down with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charge and has pointed the finger back at Kiev.

But there had been signs of a shift over Russia's attendance after Hockey said at the G-20 finance ministers' meeting in September that member nations believed its participation would help address the geopolitical tensions.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday that he was "not happy" with many aspects of Russia's foreign policy, but it was not his nation's right to "say yes or no to individual members of the G-20".

"Russia is a member of the G-20 and as such, we're obliged to accept the Russian leader in this country," he told reporters.

"I think it will be pretty crystal clear that we think that Russia needs to fully cooperate in the investigation into the MH17 atrocity."

Mr Poroshenko said Saturday he would meet Mr Putin while attending the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan, but added: "I don't expect that these will be easy negotiations."

The Milan talks will also include the prime ministers of Italy and Britain as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Poroshenko's announcement came as Kiev reported rebel attacks had subsided, signalling the possibility of rescuing a truce in the conflict.

The two leaders last met in late August for talks that led to the truce accord. Fighting has continued in several areas along the frontline where the two sides have failed to pull back heavy artillery, as required under the ceasefire.