Negotiators have been struggling for days to agree on the language because of differences over the war, hoping to get Russia and China on board to produce a communiqué that will also address pressing global problems like debt and climate change.
India‘s G20 sherpa, or negotiator, Amitabh Kant said the summit’s concluding statement, the Leaders’ Declaration, would be a “voice” of the global south and developing countries.
“New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration is almost ready, I would not like to dwell on it,” Kant told a news conference. “This declaration will be recommended to the leaders.”
Four Indian government sources said language on the war in Ukraine was the only issue left and a second meeting of sherpas to seek consensus was likely to last into the night.
One source told Reuters a joint declaration may or may not come to a unanimous agreement. It could have different paragraphs stating the views of different countries, or it could record agreement and dissent in one paragraph.
“We may paper over the differences and make a general statement saying we should have peace and harmony across the world so that everybody agrees,” a second source said.
An EU diplomat said India was doing an “excellent” job as host in looking for compromises. “But so far Russia is blocking a compromise that is acceptable otherwise for everyone else”.
The streets of the usually bustling capital New Delhi were deserted on Friday ahead of the summit with businesses, offices and schools closed as part of security measures to ensure the smooth running of the most high-powered meeting to be hosted by the country.
Slums have been demolished and monkeys and stray dogs have been removed from the streets.
Xi, Putin missing
The summit is expected to be dominated by the West and its allies. Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the meeting and sending Premier Li Qiang instead, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin will also be absent.
U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, among others, will attend.
The hardened stance on the war has prevented agreement on even a single communiqué at the ministerial meetings during India’s G20 presidency so far this year, leaving it to the leaders to find a way around, if possible.
China said on Friday it is willing to work with all parties and push for a positive outcome at the summit.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning made the remarks after a media report said Sunak blamed China for delaying an agreement on various issues, including Ukraine.
In New Delhi, Sunak said that it was not his place to tell India what stand it should take on the war in Ukraine.
“It’s not for me to tell India what positions to take on international issues, but I know India rightly cares about the international rule of law, the UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity,” Sunak told Indian news agency ANI.
India has avoided blaming Moscow for the war and has called for a solution through dialogue and diplomacy. The Financial Times reported on Thursday that Sunak would urge his Indian counterpart to “call out” Russia for its February 2022 invasion.
Modi’s government is projecting India’s presidency of the group and the summit as a showcase for the country’s fast-growing economy and its rising position in the geo-political pecking order.
New Delhi has been decked up for the gathering with a brand new summit venue, fountains, flowerpots and illumination along major thoroughfares, alongside thousands of armed security personnel standing guard.
More than 100 Tibetan refugees staged a protest away from the city centre on Friday, demanding that the “occupation” of their country by China be discussed during the summit.
Analysts say deeper divisions over the war in Ukraine risk derailing progress on issues such as food security, debt distress and global cooperation on climate change.
The most important thing that can be done to support global economic growth is for Russia to end its brutal war in Ukraine, Yellen said.
Western countries want a strong condemnation of the invasion as a condition for agreeing to a Delhi declaration. India has suggested that the G20, while condemning the suffering caused by Russia’s invasion, also reflect Moscow’s and Beijing’s view that the forum is not the place for geopolitics.
In addition, there is disagreement on climate change cooperation, Indian government sources added.
The group has been divided on commitments to phasing down fossil-fuel use, increasing renewable energy targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said G20 leaders had the power to reset a climate crisis that is “spinning out of control”.