Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaks during a press conference after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Goa, India, 05 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

India downplays Putin, Xi’s absence at G20 summit

New Delhi, Sep 6 (EFE).- India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday downplayed the absence of Russian and Chinese presidents, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, at the G20 leaders’ summit to be held over the weekend in New Delhi.

“I think at different points of time in G20 there have been some presidents or prime ministers who for whatever reason, have chosen not to come themselves, but that country’s position is obviously reflected by whoever is the representative on that occasion,” Jaishankar said in an interview with local news agency ANI.

Until now, the Indian government had been silent on the absence of both leaders at the summit, which comes amid tensions between Russia and China and the West.

“I do not think it has anything to do with India. I think whatever decision they make, they would know best,” the Indian minister added.

Kremlin had confirmed Putin’s absence from the upcoming summit two weeks ago.

The Russian leader did not participate in last year’s summit in Bali either.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the leaders’ meeting, as had happened a year ago.

China confirmed on Monday that Xi would not be attending the meeting, marking his first absence since taking office in 2013, although he also did not attend the 2020 and 2021 summits in person due to the country’s Covid-19 policies.

Beijing did not offer any explanation as to why he was skipping the event but said that Chinese Premier Li Qiang would be coming to New Delhi instead.

Xi’s absence from the summit comes as bilateral relations between China and India are at one of their lowest points in decades.

Bilateral relations deteriorated drastically after at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a border clash in June 2020 in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas, marking the worst confrontation between the two nuclear-armed nations in 45 years. EFE