G-20 foreign ministers meet in Bali amid Ukraine war and its global repercussions

Indonesia has sought a balance of interests among the G-20, especially amid threats from the West to boycott the summit. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 largest economies, or G-20, convened on Thursday (July 7) in Bali to address issues hindering global recovery, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and its repercussions worldwide.

Top envoys from the world's major developed and developing economies will discuss ways to strengthen multilateralism, as well as strategic policies to address the current food and energy crises.

As G-20 president, Indonesia's focus is on three issues: strengthening the global health architecture, a sustainable shift to renewable energy, and enhancing digital transformation.

Among those attending in person are US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, British Foreign Minister Elizabeth Truss, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

This will be Mr Lavrov's first in-person meeting with some of the biggest critics of Russia's invasion in Ukraine since it began in February.

Indonesia has sought a balance of interests among G-20 members, especially amid threats from some Western countries to boycott the summit and pushes to exclude Russia.

Ukraine is among the few countries not in the grouping that Indonesia, as host, invited to the meeting. Its Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is said to be attending virtually.

Singapore was also invited, with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Bali for the meeting.

"Given today’s tumultuous geopolitical climate, it is timely for us to reflect on how countries can bridge differences and focus on a sustainable recovery that leaves no one behind," he wrote on his Facebook account on Thursday.

Australia's Ms Wong told journalists that she appreciated Indonesia's move to invite Ukraine.

"That will be a very important moment to have Ukraine speak to the G-20 in front of all of us, including Russia, about the effects on its people, on the Ukrainian people - men, women and children - of the consequences of the Russian invasion," she said.

Asked if she would walk out when Mr Lavrov speaks, Ms Wong said that instead of walking out, some of the foreign ministers "intend to use the meeting... to highlight what Russia has done".

"We will be making very clear, collectively, our views about Russia's position and Russia's behaviour," she added.

Top officials from the US, Britain and Canada walked out as a Russian official was speaking in a G-20 finance meeting in Washington in April.

The two-day meeting, taking place under tight security on the resort island of Bali, will also see a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines.

On Thursday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held bilateral talks with her counterparts from India, China, South Africa, Australia and Britain, among others.

Ms Retno and Mr Wang underlined the need for developing countries to have a solid voice in halting the Russia-Ukraine war and in reintegrating exports from the warring nations into the global supply chain, among other matters, according to a statement from her ministry.

Mr Wang and Mr Lavrov also had a meeting, according to a Twitter post from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Blinken is set to have bilateral talks with Mr Wang, but is not expected to do so with Mr Lavrov.

No communique on the outcomes of the ministerial meeting will be produced, but Ms Retno is slated to give a media statement when the meeting concludes on Friday.

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