India to host virtual G20 summit Wednesday; Trudeau to attend

India to host virtual G20 summit Wednesday; Trudeau to attend

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) Against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a virtual summit of G20 leaders on Wednesday which would be attended by the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With Ottawa confirming Trudeau's participation in the summit, this would be the first time he would come face to face with Prime Minister Modi, albeit virtually, after ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Trudeau's allegations in September of a 'potential' involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia.  India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020. India has rejected Trudeau's allegations as 'absurd' and 'motivated'.

While Putin's participation in the virtual meeting has also been confirmed by the Kremlin, China on Tuesday had announced that Premier Li Qiang will attend the virtual G20 Leaders' Summit at India's invitation.

Significantly, the meeting comes on a day Israel's Cabinet approved a temporary ceasefire with the Hamas group that is expected to bring the first halt in fighting in the six-week war.

The deal calls for a four-day ceasefire, during which Israel will halt its military offensive in Gaza while Hamas frees at least 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it and other militants are holding, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was quoted as saying by media reports.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday ahead of the summit, India's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said the deliberations will witness 'excellent participation' from leaders of the grouping.

Kant described the virtual summit as 'rare and exceptional' which would give Modi an opportunity to interact with world leaders for a second time during India's G20 Presidency before it passes on to Brazil in December.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin had skipped the G20 Leaders' Summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10.

'The virtual summit of the G20 being held tomorrow will also be a major gathering of world leaders since the conclusion of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly and the SDG Summit,' Kant had said.

Noting that several challenges have emerged since the September G20 summit, Kant had said development would be the primary focus of the virtual meeting and leaders might engage in discussions on a myriad of other issues.

'We are expecting a large majority of G20 leaders to be present,' said Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra in response to questions.

He said it would not be correct to pre-judge if the issues of geo-political tensions will be raised at the meeting.

The virtual meeting of G20 leaders is taking place a day after leaders of the BRICS grouping held an extraordinary meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

'The virtual summit will provide an opportunity not only to discuss the implementation of the leaders' declaration but also for the leaders to share views and enhance cooperation on critical challenges,' Kant had said.

He said the goal was to address gaps in global governance, reaffirm commitments to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and progress toward a revitalised multilateral system better positioned to positively impact people's lives.

Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth had said it is expected that Wednesday's meeting will give further momentum and guidance on issues related to the finance track and then hand it over to Brazil which will take over the G20 presidency from December 1.

The meeting will deliberate on a host of issues but all eyes are on the deliberations related to the Gaza situation.

Israel has been carrying out a massive military operation in Gaza following the unprecedented and multi-pronged attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas militants on October 7. Hamas killed around 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 220 others. Around 11,500 people have been killed in Gaza in the Israeli offensive, according to the Hamas-run authorities in Gaza.

There has been mounting criticism of Israel for the death of a large number of civilians, including women and children, in Gaza in its military operations. PTI ASK/SKU DV DV

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