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G20 leaders pay their respects at a Gandhi memorial on the final day of the summit in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — G20 leaders paid their respects Sunday at a memorial dedicated to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi — a day after the forum added a new member and agreed on a range of issues but softened their language about the Russian war in India. Ukraine.

India, this year hosting the Group of 20 leading rich and developing countries, ended the first day of the summit with diplomatic victories. As the first session began, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the group would add the African Union as a member — part of the Indian leader’s push to uplift the South.

A few hours later, India announced that it had succeeded in getting the disparate group to sign a final statement, but only after softening its language on the contentious issue of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

With these key agenda items completed, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Australia’s Anthony Albanese and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, among others, shook hands and posed for photos with Modi on Sunday at New Delhi’s Rajghat memorial, which was decorated with orange and yellow flowers. . Modi presented the leaders with scarves made from khadi, a hand-spun fabric promoted by Gandhi during India’s independence movement against the British.

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In the months leading up to the leaders’ summit in New Delhi, India had failed to agree on language on Ukraine, with Russia and China even objecting to the language they used at the 2022 G20 summit in Bali had agreed.

This year’s final statement, released a day before the summit’s formal conclusion, highlighted the “human suffering and negative collateral consequences of the war in Ukraine” but made no mention of the Russian invasion. It cited a United Nations charter, which stated that “all states shall refrain from the threat or use of force in pursuit of territorial acquisition contrary to the territorial integrity, sovereignty or political independence of any state . The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.”

In contrast, the Bali statement cited a UN resolution condemning “the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and said that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.”

Western leaders — who have pushed for stronger punishment of Russia’s actions at previous G20 meetings — still called the consensus a success and praised India’s deft balancing act. If the G20 had not issued a final communiqué, this would have been the first and a blow to the group’s prestige.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters it was significant that Russia had signed the agreement that mentioned Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russian negotiator Svetlana Lukash described discussions on the Ukraine-related part of the final statement as “very difficult,” adding that the agreed text gave a “balanced view” of the situation, Russian media reported.

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