G20 opens summit, welcomes African Union as a permanent member

The annual summit of the world's 20 most powerful economies commenced in New Delhi with a historic decision, granting permanent membership to the African Union, a move aimed at enhancing G20's representation.

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G20 Summit Begins with African Union Permanent Membership

While this significant step was taken, the summit remained deeply divided over the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Western nations advocated for a strong condemnation of Russia, while others insisted on focusing solely on broader economic issues.

Leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, arrived at the $300 million Bharat Mandapam, a unique conch-shaped convention center, set against the backdrop of a 16th-century stone fort in India's capital, New Delhi. The city underwent significant security measures, including closures of businesses, shops, offices, and schools, and the removal of stray animals.

The leaders had to reach a compromise since negotiators were unable to reconcile differences over the phrasing about the war in Ukraine. There were 75 agreed-upon articles in the summit declaration draft, however the "geopolitical situation" paragraph was blank.

Biden sought higher climate action from major countries, given growing concerns about the lack of consensus on emissions reduction. The G20 nations account for 80% of global emissions.

In an effort to improve India's standing abroad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that membership in the African Union would be equal to that of the European Union.

Despite the absence of leaders like China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin, the summit convened leaders from influential nations, with discussions expected to center around Western interests.

The ongoing dispute over Ukraine had complicated the creation of the Leaders' Declaration. Russia, represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, threatened to block the final declaration unless it aligned with Moscow's position on Ukraine and other crises.

Without an agreement, India might issue a chair statement, marking a rare instance in the G20's 20-year history without a declaration.

The Ukraine conflict's differing perspectives have thwarted consensus even during India's G20 presidency this year, posing a challenge to reaching a unified stance on critical global issues.

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