Beijing appears to retract COVID-19 vaccine mandate after pushback

JAKARTA: Top diplomats from the world’s leading rich and developing nations failed to find common ground on how to deal with Russia’s war in Ukraine and its global impact as they met in Bali on Friday.

The conflict in Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, has disrupted global supply chains and stoked an energy crisis, as international sanctions slapped on Moscow — a major oil and gas producer — have led to rising inflation in many countries.

The Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting took place as Indonesia, which this year holds the rotating presidency, has been facing pressure to exclude Russia from the G-20 summit, which is scheduled to take place in Bali in November.

The group includes Western countries that have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, but also nations like China, India and South Africa that have remained neutral.

Amid deep divisions within the bloc, Friday’s gathering also saw the first meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken since the start of the Russian invasion in February.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who hosted the meeting, told reporters there was a “strong push from many participants for an immediate end to the war and peaceful resolution of conflict through diplomacy and negotiations.”

“Some members expressed condemnation on the act of invasion; the war has caused tremendous suffering to the civilian population,” she said, adding that participants had agreed that “there is an urgent need to strengthen multilateralism.”

“Multilateralism remains the best way to resolve global challenges, cooperation in pandemic response including ensuring equitable access to vaccines is one of multilateralism’s success story.”

Marsudi’s final press statement and her opening session remarks — in which she called for settling differences “at the negotiating table, not at the battlefield” — were the only part of the conference to which access was granted to the media.

Lavrov, at whom reporters shouted, “When will you stop the war?” as he posed for a photo with Marsudi on his arrival at the meeting’s venue, the Hilton Bali Resort in Nusa Dua, left the conference before it concluded, Russian Embassy spokesperson Denis Tetiushin told Arab News.

He said there was no particular reason for Lavrov’s early departure, as “he usually doesn’t join the last agenda.”

Lavrov also reportedly walked out several times during the proceedings, including when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the conference via a video link.

“I think that after everything Russia has done in the past half a year, it has no place at any international fora,” Kuleba was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Stopping Moscow’s aggressive colonialism is the global priority No. 1 if we want to preserve stability, avert a deepening food and energy crisis, and protect multilateralism from those who try to destroy it.”