NEW DELHI: The African Union formally took its seat as a new member of the G20 Saturday at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The expansion of the bloc is a notable diplomatic victory for Modi, who faces national elections next year and has used hosting rights for this year’s forum to burnish his image as an international statesman.
Before his opening speech, Modi greeted African Union chair and Comoros President Azali Assoumani with a warm hug.
“India put a proposal to give permanent membership of G20 to the African Union. I believe that with we have everyone’s agreement on this,” Modi said in his opening address to the summit.
“With everyone’s approval, I request the African Union head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member,” he added, banging a ceremonial gavel.
Assoumani then took his seat among world leaders at the invitation of India’s foreign affairs minister S. Jaishankar.
Finding consensus among members has been increasingly difficult in recent years with deep divisions on the Ukraine war.
“The world has a huge crisis of trust,” Modi said in his opening remarks.
“War has made this trust deficit deeper. If we can defeat Covid, we can also conquer this mutual trust crisis.”