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G20 leaders pay tribute at Gandhi memorial in India’s summit conclusion

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Image/AP.

On Sunday, as the G20 summit concluded, the world leaders paid their respects to India’s iconic independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi. The summit had witnessed the addition of a new member and consensus on various matters, although there was a notable moderation in the language regarding Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

The G20 added the African Union as a member, aligning with India’s push to support the Global South. Despite significant disputes related to the European conflict, host India successfully secured consensus for a final statement from the diverse group, as reported by the Associated Press.

India unveiled an ambitious plan to build a rail and shipping corridor connecting it with the Middle East and Europe in collaboration with the United States, the European Union, and other nations.

This initiative aims to bolster economic growth and political cooperation. After addressing these essential agenda items, leaders shook hands and posed for photos with Modi at the Rajghat memorial site in New Delhi, receiving shawls made of khadi, a handspun fabric promoted by Gandhi during India’s independence movement against the British.

During the visit to the memorial, some leaders, such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Indonesia’s former G20 host President Joko Widodo, walked barefoot as a customary sign of respect. In contrast, U.S. President Joe Biden and others opted for slippers due to wet ground from heavy rain. They gathered before wreaths surrounding the memorial, adorned with orange and yellow marigold garlands featuring an eternal flame.

The reserved seat meant for Prime Minister Modi distinctly bore the label “Bharat,” a term rooted in ancient Sanskrit, which holds significant importance among his Hindu nationalist followers. This term gained prominence in the summit’s lead-up, reflecting his supporters’ ideological stance.

The final statement for this year’s summit, issued a day before its official conclusion, emphasized the “human suffering and adverse consequences of the conflict in Ukraine” without explicitly referencing Russia’s invasion.

Despite their previous efforts to secure a stronger condemnation of Russia’s actions in prior G20 meetings, Western leaders acknowledged the consensus as a success. They commended India for its skilful diplomatic balancing.

During the summit, India initiated a global biofuel alliance with 19 countries, including the U.S. and Brazil. These biofuels, produced from Agricultural resources or organic waste, are increasingly considered a sustainable substitute for fossil fuels.

The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Additionally, Spain holds a permanent guest seat.

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