The Indian leader calls on the bloc to find common ground on global issues as he opens the meeting which is expected to be dominated by the war in Ukraine.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has criticized global institutions for failing to address the world’s biggest challenges, calling on countries to find common ground on divisive issues.
Speaking at the opening of the Group of 20 (G20) foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, Modi said countries should recognize that multilateralism is currently “in crisis”.
“The experience of recent years – financial crisis, climate change, pandemic, terrorism and wars – clearly shows that global governance has failed,” Modi said in a recorded statement.
“We must not allow problems that we cannot solve together to hinder those that we can,” Modi added.
India holds the presidency of the G20 this year. But New Delhi’s longstanding security ties with Moscow put the host of Thursday’s meeting in an awkward position.
India, being a major buyer of Russian arms and energy, did not directly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Kwatra said Russia’s war in Ukraine is expected to be an important talking point at the meeting.
New Delhi is also keen to steer the talks towards issues affecting southern countries, such as poverty eradication and climate change.
Delegates from Europe and the United States, however, reiterated that they held Russia responsible for the conflict, with Germany saying it would use the meeting to counter Russian “propaganda”.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra told reporters that Russia alone was responsible for the war and should continue to be punished.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also said the G20 must hold Russia accountable for the “negative consequences for almost every country on the planet”.
“We must come up with solutions that protect the most vulnerable, instead of letting them suffer from Russia’s war,” she said.
The New Delhi meeting brings together 40 delegations, including those led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.
On Wednesday, Blinken said he had no plans to meet with either minister. Ties between Washington and Beijing are strained over Ukraine as well as the United States which last month shot down what it said was a Chinese spy balloon that had drifted over North America.
The G20 foreign ministers meeting comes after a finance ministers meeting in Bangalore last month failed to agree on a joint declaration on the war.
At the meeting, Modi called on major economies to help the world’s most vulnerable people and “bring back stability, confidence and growth to the global economy”.
The lack of consensus at the finance officials’ meeting mirrored the outcome of last November’s G20 summit in Bali, when the Indonesian host issued a statement acknowledging differences between countries.