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G20 host Indonesia ‘impartial’ amid Russia ban calls

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia will remain impartial as the rotating chair of the Group of 20 (G20), the country’s top diplomatic negotiator said yesterday, following mounting calls that Russia be barred from the forum’s meetings.

Dian Triansyah Djani made the statement after Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia confirmed on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to attend the November heads-of-state summit in Bali.

Western nations are assessing Russia’s membership in the G20 major economies over its invasion of Ukraine, which has prompted a refugee crisis in Europe and roiled global markets.

“We will remain as an impartial chair and will find solutions for any issues that may arise,” the country’s G20 co-sherpa said at a briefing with journalists.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that letting Putin sit with other world leaders at the same table for this year’s G20 summit would be “a step too far”.

And former United Kingdom (UK) prime minister David Cameron called on Western countries to boycott the leaders’ summit if the Russian president was going, in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal this week.

But some other G20 members are likely to veto a ban, and China already insisted Russia was an “important member” of the group.

Djani confirmed that the invitations to “save the date” for the leaders’ summit were sent to all G20 members, including Moscow, on February 22 – two days before Russia’s invasion.

“Indonesia always builds its diplomacy based on rules of procedures and past precedents, including in hosting the G20,” he said.

He further underlined that Indonesia would focus on economic issues and global recovery given that the “G20 was the premier international economic forum”, implying that the invasion would largely be kept off the agenda.