India in G20 summit welcomes Israel-Hamas cease-fire, urges action on climate, other issues

FILE- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a rally in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023 welcomed a cease-fire that's expected to enable the release of dozens of hostages taken by Hamas and urged leaders of the top rich and developing nations to work together to ensure the Israel-Hamas war doesn't expand in the region. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

By ASHOK SHARMA Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday welcomed a cease-fire in Gaza that’s expected to enable the release of dozens of hostages taken by Hamas, and urged leaders of the top rich and developing nations to work together to ensure the Israel-Hamas war doesn’t expand.

Hosting a virtual meeting of Group of 20 leaders, Modi said the hostages should be released and humanitarian assistance expedited. India has the G20 presidency for 2023.

“Terrorism is not acceptable and civilians’ death is condemnable,” he said.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day cease-fire in the war in Gaza — a breakthrough that will facilitate the release of dozens of hostages held by militants as well as Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and bring a large influx of aid to the besieged territory, officials said Wednesday. The truce raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, which was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel.

There was no official Indian statement on participation by President Joe Biden or China’s President Xi Jinping in the G20 summit. Biden attended the September G20 meeting in New Delhi that added the African Union as a member.

Television images showed Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attending the virtual summit.

India’s External Affairs Ministry has scheduled a briefing after the closed-door session of the virtual summit.

Putin in his speech pointed to shifts on the global stage to argue that the world is going through a process of radical transformation with “new, powerful centers of global economic development emerging and strengthening.”

“Turbulence in the markets is increasing, chronic problems in the international financial sector, energy and food security are worsening,” he said.

Putin noted the criticism of Russia’s action in Ukraine but sought to deflect attention from it by pointing at civilian suffering in the Israel-Hamas war.

“Yes, of course, military actions are always a tragedy for specific people, specific families and the country as a whole,” he said. “And, of course, we must think about how to stop this tragedy.”

“The war and the loss of life can’t but cause shock,” Putin continued. “But isn’t anyone shocked by the extermination of civilians in Palestine, in Gaza today? Isn’t anyone shocked about doctors forced to perform operations on children and use a scalpel on children’s bodies without anesthesia?”

Modi urged the G20 leaders to push for effective implementation of various decisions made at their September summit in New Delhi. Those include climate financing, reforms of multinational development banks and work on the creation of a framework for ethical and artificial intelligence as well as developing a common framework for digital public infrastructure.

Other issues critical to developing countries include alternative fuels like hydrogen, resource efficiency and food security.

Modi announced the creation of a social impact fund with an initial contribution of $25 million to help developing countries meet sustainable development goals. He urged other countries to join the initiative.

“Artificial intelligence should reach the people and it must be safe for the society,” Modi said. He invited all G20 member countries to attend a Global AI summit in New Delhi next month.

India is promoting itself as a bridge to the developing world and a rising global player. Ahead of the G20 virtual summit, Modi held a similar meeting with 130 leaders of mostly developing countries.

India’s G20 presidency ends on Nov. 30 and the baton is being passed to Brazil for 2024.


Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report from Moscow.