War looms over G20 event as some countries turn down dinner over Ukraine

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 8 (Reuters) – G20 foreign ministers attended a joint summit on Friday that put some of the staunchest critics of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the same room as Moscow’s top diplomat, the first such meeting since the beginning of the war in February.

The lead-up to the meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali was dominated by the war and its impact on the global economy, with top officials from Western countries and Japan stressing that it would not be “business as usual” at the forum.

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shook hands with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi at the beginning of the meeting, cries like “When will you stop the war?” and “Why don’t you stop the war”.

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Underlining tensions in the build-up, Retno said previous G7 counterparts had informed her that they could not attend Thursday’s welcome dinner, which was attended by Lavrov, decisions the host country understood and respected.

“It is our responsibility to end the war as soon as possible and to settle our differences at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield,” Retno said Friday at the opening of the negotiations.

A senior official at Indonesia’s foreign ministry told Reuters that no communiqué was expected from Friday’s meeting.

The Russian invasion has cast a cloud over Indonesia’s presidency of the Group of 20 Largest Economies this year, with speculation of boycotts by some members and a strike in April at a meeting of finance ministers in Washington.

Retno said late Thursday that it was important for the host to “create an atmosphere that is comfortable for everyone” and the G20 was an opportunity for progress.

“This is the first time since February 24 that all the big players are in the same room,” she said, referring to the beginning of the Russian invasion.

A senior US State Department official said on Thursday it is important to avoid “disruptions or interruptions” to the G20 agenda, while also ensuring that nothing happens that could lead to the “cruelty” of Ukraine by Russia. can legitimize. read more

After discussing the Ukraine issue with Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing opposed any act of stirring up bloc clashes and creating a “new Cold War”. .

The Russian invasion, which it calls a “special military operation,” has caused a major disruption to the global economy, with a blockade of Ukrainian grain and sanctions on Russian oil and gas, triggering a food crisis and a global rise in inflation.

Friday’s agenda includes a closed-door meeting with top diplomats from G20 countries, including China, India, the United States, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Japan, South Africa, as well as bilateral talks on the sidelines. The Ukrainian foreign minister is expected to address the meeting virtually.

Lavrov met Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bali on Thursday, where he praised Beijing but lashed out at an “overtly aggressive” West.

For the first time in three years, Chinese and Australian foreign ministers will hold talks on the sidelines of Friday’s meeting, signaling a thaw in relations soured by claims of foreign interference and retaliatory trade sanctions. read more

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Additional reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing, Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Yuddy Cahya Budiman in Nusa Dua; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Martin Petty, Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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