Indian artist Jagjot Singh Rubal puts finishing touches on an oil painting of U.S. President Joe Biden at his workshop in Amritsar on September 5, 2023, ahead of the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi.

Narinder Nanu | Afp | Getty Images

NEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to deepen the partnership between their countries on Friday in their second bilateral meeting in less than six months, as Delhi prepares for a meeting of world leaders Group of 20 leading industrialized and developed countries prepares developing countries.

The two leaders met at Modi’s official residence shortly after Biden’s arrival in Delhi and then issued a 29-point statement highlighting the depth and breadth of their relationship at a time of evolving global alliances – from building resilient ones strategic technology value chains to linking defense industry ecosystems to collaboration in renewable and nuclear energy, climate finance and cancer research.

The two leaders “reaffirmed the importance of the Quad in supporting a free, open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific” and “expressed their appreciation for the significant progress currently being made in implementing the groundbreaking achievements of Prime Minister’s historic visit Modi in June 2023. “Washington.” The Quad is an informal security alliance between Australia, India, Japan and the US that emerged in response to China’s increasing strength in the Indo-Pacific region.

This closed-door meeting with Biden was the third – after meetings with leaders from Mauritius and Bangladesh – that Modi convened on the eve of the G20 summit, and part of around a dozen bilateral meetings scheduled for this weekend are, underlining India’s strategic ambitions as a major global player connecting the developed world and the Global South.

The summit is an important summit for Modi, whose government has turned the normally quiet, rotating G20 presidency into a branded vehicle to highlight India’s geopolitical importance ahead of national elections next year. Many governments, investors and companies are also starting to turn their attention to India – as China slows – which the International Monetary Fund predicts will be the fastest-growing economy this year.

Consensus at the weekend

This weekend’s agenda includes the expected addition of the African Union as an official G20 member as part of India’s broader focus on empowering the Global South and promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in the multilateral forum, established in 1999 as a platform to address current issues Problems were founded on the global economy.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be present this weekend.

While Putin is sending Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to take his place, China’s Prime Minister Li Qiang will take Xi’s place – the first time Xi has skipped the G20 meeting since he took office in the decade.

Putin has not left Russia since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him for war crimes in Ukraine.

The pair’s absence has raised fears that a binding communiqué for member states may not be issued at the end of a G20 summit – undermining India’s influence and diminishing its domestic messaging.

India’s diplomats have been unable to advance binding agreements in key rounds of discussions since assuming the rotating presidency in December 2022 – because Russia and China have objected to the language related to the war in Ukraine.

There was a war of words in the run-up to this weekend’s meeting.

“The G7 countries (especially the US, UK, Germany and France) have put pressure on India to ensure that their unilateral approaches to the Ukraine situation are reflected in the final documents of the G20 forums,” the Russian said Foreign Ministry in a statement.

At a press conference ahead of the summit on Friday, Indian G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said the final declaration was “almost ready”.

“I can assure you that our presidency has been inclusive, decisive and action-oriented,” Kant said.

Alternative to China

With Putin and Xi conspicuously absent this weekend, India and the US are hoping this will be enough to convince member states and other observers from the Global South that they are pushing a more viable proposal on everything from food security to debt resolution.

In their joint statement after their bilateral meeting on Friday, Biden and Modi reiterated “their commitment to the G20.”

They also “expressed confidence that the outcomes of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi will meet the shared goals of accelerating sustainable development, strengthening multilateral cooperation and building a global consensus on inclusive economic policies to address them “We will advance our greatest shared challenges, including the fundamental transformation and expansion of multilateral development banks.”

However, while Putin cited an obvious reason for his absence, Xi did not provide a reason – sparking speculation that the Chinese leader could snub Modi for various reasons.

Although Xi recently traveled to South Africa for a BRICS meeting, he has rarely traveled abroad. Instead, he typically hosted visiting dignitaries in Beijing – including Zambia and Venezuela, which paid overlapping visits this weekend.

India’s warming relations with the US also stand in sharp contrast to its standoff with its neighbor China.

India – along with Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – sharply rebuked China last week for a new national map in which Beijing claims the disputed territories as its own.

India will also benefit from American companies seeking to diversify their supply chains – at China’s expense – as the US steps up efforts to limit the transfer of strategic technology to China on national security grounds.

This would likely be what Modi and Biden understood as “their ambitious vision of a lasting India-US partnership” that advances our people’s hopes for a bright and prosperous future, serves the global good and leads to a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.”

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