Washington: US President Joe Biden on Thursday left for India to participate in the historic G20 Summit in New Delhi to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Biden will follow the COVID-19 guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during his visit to India for the G20 Summit, the White House has said.
First Lady Jill Biden, 72, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. President Biden, 80, was tested for the virus on Monday and Tuesday following his wife’s positive test, but his results were negative.
Less than an hour before his departure for India, the White House said, “The President tested negative for Covid.” The First Lady was quarantined at her Delaware house after testing positive and is not travelling with the president to India and Vietnam.
On Thursday, her office said, “The First Lady tested negative for Covid today.” Travelling with the US president onboard the Air Force One include US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, and Director of Oval Office operations Annie Tomasini.
Also accompanying the president are Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Director of Speechwriting Vinay Reddy, Director of Communications Ben LaBolt, Director of Scheduling and Advance Ryan Montoya, Acting Chief of Protocol Ethan Rosenzweig, NSC Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby, Senior Advisor for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein, Deputy Director of Communications Herbie Ziskend, Senior Director for South Asia, National Security Council Eileen Laubacher, among others.
According to the White House, Biden would arrive in New Delhi on Friday evening, with a refuelling stop at Ramstein, Germany.
The US president is looking forward to a successful G-20 Summit and advancing several of the causes dear to his heart like climate change, and reforms of international forums like the World Bank and the International Monetary Funds.
On his maiden trip to India as the president of the United States, Biden would welcome the African Union as a G20 member, an Indian move that has been supported and cheered by world leaders.
He is expected to have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi on Friday itself.
During the meeting, the two leaders are likely to review the progress made on the decisions that they took during Prime Minister Modi’s official state visit to Washington in June.
Prominent issues that could feature during the meeting could be Ukraine, critical and emerging technology and some of the deals that were announced like that of the drones with General Atomics and jet engines with General Electric.
The next day President Biden will participate in an official arrival and handshake with Modi. Thereafter he would participate in a series of G20 Leaders Summit meetings including Session 1: “One Earth”; and Session 2: “One Family”.
He will also participate in a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment event and then end the day with a dinner and cultural programme with G20 leaders.
Before leaving for Hanoi in Vietnam, the President will visit the Raj Ghat Memorial with G20 leaders, the White House said.
On Wednesday, White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby told reporters that Biden’s focus will be on delivering economic opportunity for developing countries, making progress on key priorities for the American people such as climate and technology, and showing the US’ commitment to the G20 itself as a viable, if not vital, forum to tackle these issues.
“Of course, we’re grateful for Prime Minister Modi’s leadership during India’s presidency of the G20, and the President is certainly looking forward to his bilateral meeting with the prime minister shortly after his arrival in New Delhi.” “He is also looking forward to warmly welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. We believe that the African Union’s voice will make the G20 even stronger than it already is,” Kirby added.
The G20 member countries represent around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
He hoped that the G20 countries would be able to issue a joint statement. “We know that the Indians also would like to see a joint communique if you will, so we’ll see where it goes.” “Oftentimes the sticking point tends to be the war in Ukraine because countries like Russia and China are less likely to sign on to language that the rest of the international community is more uncomfortable signing on to, so we’ll see where it goes,” Kirby said.
Apart from President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are among the G20 leaders who have already confirmed their participation in the summit.
Prime Minister Modi will hand over the baton of the G20 Presidency to Brazilian President Lula on September 10. Brazil will formally assume the G20 Presidency on December 1.
The G20 grouping comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union.