A source who wished to remain anonymous said that India is hopeful of getting a common stance from the G-20 countries on how to describe Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
The source said that unlike last year in Indonesia, where there were frequent walkouts during similar discussions, the recent meetings have seen more cooperation among different countries.
The source added that this could lead to a possible compromise like the one reached last November in Bali, but warned that any worsening of the war could disrupt this delicate balance.
India, which will host the annual G-20 summit in September, is facing pressure to prove that it can broker a deal after two major meetings this year ended with Russia and China rejecting the language on the war.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to use India’s G-20 presidency to “depoliticize” the supply chains of food and fertilizer that have been affected by the war.
India’s chief G-20 negotiator, Amitabh Kant, said on Thursday that the group is still far from agreeing on the language in a joint statement at the leaders meeting in September. He said that the group also needs to address urgent issues such as global debt and climate change as part of that.
“The Russia-Ukraine issue cannot block many other issues,” Kant told reporters in the scenic beach town of Kumarakom in southern India, where the negotiators were meeting this week. Billboards leading to the venue read “Welcome sherpas, may the backwaters lead you forward.”
Kant said he had a “very positive and optimistic” meeting with his Russian counterpart Svetlana Lukash on Thursday, saying they “talked about everything under the sun.”
The war in Ukraine is the main issue that the G-20 sherpas are trying to resolve in the meetings this week, which are officially about digital public infrastructure. India has been a key player in the group since the war started more than a year ago, when Russia invaded.
India has kept a good relationship with the US but has not voted against the war at the United Nations. It has also avoided joining the US-led sanctions on Moscow and has been buying Russian oil at low prices.
India has not been able to use its cordial ties with President Vladimir Putin to help the G-20 members reach a consensus as the host country.
The meetings of the finance and foreign ministers both ended without an agreement, as India issued a chairman’s statement instead. Russia and China did not agree with the language on the war that was previously accepted by all countries.