G20 summit admits African Union as permanent member; announces India-Middle East-Europe corridor

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New Delhi: In a big boost to Indian economy, leaders of the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union jointly announced an ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor during the G20 Summit here on Saturday.

The new economic corridor is regarded as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In another major move, the G20 leaders admitted African Union as permanent member and called for peace in Ukraine.

India’s diplomatic win


The New Delhi declaration marked India’s diplomatic win after the G20 summit adopted a consensus declaration overcoming major differences on the Russia-Ukraine war, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for ending “global trust deficit”.

Modi also announced that African Union was admitted as G20’s permanent member.

Asserting that “today’s era must not be of war”, the New Delhi G20 Summit Leaders’ Declaration under India’s presidency called on all States to uphold the principles of international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty and pitched for initiatives for “comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine”. “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

The announcement about a consensus on the 37-page declaration and its subsequent adoption was made by Prime Minister Modi at the start of the second session on the opening day of the two-day summit of the grouping of major developed and developing countries. It came hours after India circulated a new text to the members countries to describe the Ukraine conflict.

“Friends, we have just got good news, with the hard work of our teams, and with the cooperation of you all, there is consensus on the New Delhi G20 Summit Leaders’ Declaration,” Modi said.

“I announce that this declaration is adopted,” he said, and banged the gavel thrice.

“History has been created with the adoption of the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. United in consensus and spirit, we pledge to work collaboratively for a better, more prosperous, and harmonious future. My gratitude to all fellow G20 members for their support and cooperation,” Modi said later on X.

G20 summit condemns terrorism

The G20 leaders also condemned terrorism in all its forms and called for strengthening of efforts to increase the effectiveness of international cooperation to deny terrorist groups safe haven, freedom of operations as well as financial, material or political support. “It constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”

They also called for a strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth as an answer to the uneven recovery the world has seen from the pandemic-infused plunder, and flagged the need for trillions of dollars for countries to meet their climate goals and clean energy technologies.

On other issues, the G20 grouping strongly deplored all acts of religious hatred against persons, religious symbols and holy books. They emphasised the freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.

African Union in G20

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Modi urged world leaders to turn the “global trust deficit” into trust and confidence and announced that the African Union has been granted permanent membership of the grouping.

All member countries of the G20 accepted Modi’s proposal to bring the 55-member African Union(AU) to the high table of the world’s top economies in a significant milestone under India’s G20 presidency.

Modi said the African Union becoming a member will strengthen the G20 and also the voice of the Global South. The union collectively has a GDP of nearly USD 3 trillion and a population of around 1.4 billion. It is the first expansion of the G20 since its inception in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis.

“It is time for all of us to walk together for global good,” Modi said while addressing the ‘One Earth’ session of the 18th G20 summit and the first to be hosted by India.

India-Middle East-Europe Corridor

The corridor comprises an eastern corridor connecting India to the Gulf region and a northern corridor connecting the Gulf region to Europe, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, adding it will include a railway and ship-rail transit network and road transport routes.

The countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding to establish the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor which is expected to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe.

Modi and US President Joe Biden co-chaired the special event on Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC).

In his remarks at the event, Modi also stressed on promoting financial viability rather than debt-burden as well as on following all environmental guidelines in connectivity projects and said India does not limit connectivity to regional borders as it believes that connectivity can play a key role in strengthening mutual trust.

“The event aimed at unlocking greater investment for infrastructure development and strengthening connectivity in its various dimensions between India, Middle East and Europe,” the MEA said.

It said the PGII is a developmental initiative aimed at narrowing the infrastructure gap in developing countries as well as help towards accelerating progress on sustainable development goals globally.

The initiative will consist of two separate corridors — East Corridor connecting India to West Asia/Middle East and Northern Corridor connecting West Asia or Middle East to Europe.

It will include a rail line which upon completion will provide a reliable and cost effective cross-border ship-to-rail transit network to supplement the existing multi-modal transport routes enhancing transshipment of goods and services between South East Asia through India to West Asia or Middle East Europe.

Along the railway route, participants intend to enable the laying of cable for electricity and digital connectivity, as well as pipe for clean hydrogen export.

This corridor will secure regional supply chains, increase trade accessibility, improve trade facilitation, and support an increased emphasis on environmental social, and government impacts.

The leaders attending the two-day summit included US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva.

However, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped the summit.

(with PTI inputs)

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