G20 Summit kicks off with African Union admitted as permanent member

Leaders of the group of 20 arrived at the venue of the annual meeting of leaders of the globe’s major economies on Saturday.

The two-day weekend summit hosted by India is set to be dominated by the West and its allies. Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the meeting and sending Premier Li Qiang instead, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin will also be absent.

U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, among others, will attend.

In his opening remarks at the summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, was made a permanent member of the G20.

“We have proposed that the African Union must be given full membership of G20. I am sure that all of us agree on the same. With your (G20 members) agreement, before starting the proceedings, I invite the African Union President to take their place as a full member of the G20,” Modi said.

Top of the agenda will be climate policies and trying to find a common statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A draft reviewed by Reuters showed the “geopolitical situation” paragraph was left blank — reflecting deep division over the war in Ukraine — but 75 other paragraphs indicated broad agreement on issues such as cryptocurrencies and reforms in multilateral development banks.