Harsh Vardhan Shringla, former foreign secretary and G20 chief coordinator, has lauded India’s negotiation skills that led to the release of the G20 Declaration and the inclusion of the African Union in the bloc on the first day of the mega event noting it usually takes ample time to reach a consensus on even small issues.
While responding to the question of how New Delhi managed to convince world leaders to soften the wording on the Ukraine war, Shringla, whose team also received huge praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said it takes countries a long time to include a country or a bloc in the elite group like G20.
Negotiations usually continue till the last minute: Shringla
He asserted negotiating trilateral issues is a complex procedure that usually continues till the last minute, however, the Prime Minister announced the ‘New Delhi Declaration: on the first day.
“The inclusion of the African Union and the Declaration of G20 usually takes a long time. It is a complex process and world leaders negotiate till the last minute. However, India, under its Presidency, achieved these on the very first day of the Summit. In fact, the Prime Minister had announced in the noon,” said Shringla.
“This is a proud moment for us,” he added.
At Bali, PM Modi had assured the African Union President of inclusion when India took Presidency
Notably, the African Union is a continental Union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The AU was announced in the Sirte Declaration in Sirte, Libya, on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of the African Union.
For a long time, the Union claimed it had been neglected. In fact, the President of the Union raised the issue to PM Modi during the G20 Summit held in Bali last year. At that time, the Prime Minister had assured the head of the Union to include in the bloc when India took the Presidency.
India held over 200 hours of negotiations over the Ukraine war: G20 Sherpa
It is worth mentioning Russia had earlier warned to reject the Declaration if any wording on ‘Ukraine war’ would be added to the draft. This prompted serious issues among the G20 members, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar revealed during a press conference on Saturday, September 9.
Besides, G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, while explaining the Declaration on Saturday, asserted all countries given 100 per cent consensus on the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, however, he claimed it was not leisurely to negotiate with the countries.
According to Kant, it was the most complex part of the entire summit where the leaders initially did not agree on the Ukraine war. He said it took over 200 hours of non-stop negotiations to convince the leaders. Besides, Kant also claimed that the officials had held over 300 bilateral meetings and 15 drafts.
“The most complex part of the entire G20 was to bring consensus on the geopolitical paras (Russia-Ukraine). This was done over 200 hours of non-stop negotiations, 300 bilateral meetings, and 15 drafts,” he said.
During the presser, Kant also revealed the names of the two “brilliant officers” – Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, IFS and Joint Secretary G20, and Eenam Gambhir, a diplomat – who greatly assisted him during the negotiations.