Indonesia's Widodo says Putin and Xi to attend G20 summit: report

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 20 2022 11:21 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) pose for a picture during their meeting in Beijing, China, 04 February 2022. Putin arrived in China on the day of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony.   Alexei Druzhinn, Kremlin/Sputnik/Pool via EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) pose for a picture during their meeting in Beijing, China, 04 February 2022. Putin arrived in China on the day of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony. Alexei Druzhinn, Kremlin/Sputnik/Pool via EPA-EFE

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Group of 20 summit, the leader of host nation Indonesia said in an interview published Friday.

The pair's attendance would set the stage for possible talks with US President Joe Biden at a time when Washington is at odds with both of the rival powers, particularly over crises in Ukraine and Taiwan.

It has been unclear whether Putin and Xi would turn up to the November talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Moscow is isolated after its invasion of Ukraine, while the Chinese leader is limiting foreign trips because of Covid-19.

But President Joko Widodo, in an interview with Bloomberg, said both leaders would attend the G20 summit in person.

"Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come," Widodo said, according to the report.

Kremlin officials said in June that Putin had accepted Widodo's invitation to the summit, and would attend so long as the Covid-19 pandemic allowed him to.

Biden is expected to travel to the summit but the White House has yet to confirm details, including whether he would meet separately in Bali with Xi. The two leaders agreed during a phone call last month to arrange their first in-person meeting since Biden took office, but no time or place was announced.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said: "I don’t have President Biden travel to announce at this time. As you have seen, we have been participating in the G20 this year."

The spokesman added that if Putin "does attend the G20, then (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky should participate".

Indonesia has invited Zelensky, who says he will attend at least in virtual format. Ukraine is not a member of the G20 group.

Indonesia currently holds the rotating G20 presidency, putting it at the centre of global affairs as war rages in Europe and with tensions at their highest level in years in the Taiwan Strait, where China recently conducted its largest-ever military drills.

Jakarta has come under Western pressure to exclude Putin from the G20 gathering after announcing in April he had been invited.

But Indonesia has maintained a neutral position and called for a peaceful resolution to the months-long invasion by Russia of Ukraine, with Widodo visiting both Kyiv and Moscow earlier this year.

Asked about Widodo's comments, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told AFP that Russia and China "have received the invitation and said they would attend".

"(It is) something that we are very much hopeful," he added. 

Widodo's chief of staff declined to comment and his state secretary did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov last month walked out of a G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali after Moscow's military assault on its neighbour was roundly condemned.

Xi has not travelled internationally since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, only making his first visit outside the Chinese mainland last month to finance hub Hong Kong under strict security measures.

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