Manmohan to meet leaders from Canada, Brazil at Seoul G20

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) A host of bilateral talks await Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he leaves for Seoul on a three-day visit from Wednesday for the G20 Summit, where India will articulate its stand on keeping the development agenda on top while addressing the global financial crisis, officials here said.

Apart from meeting with his host, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the Indian prime minister is also expected to meet with the leaders of Ethiopia, an invitee at G20, as also those from Canada, Britain and Brazil, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said.

According to Summit officials, Ethiopia will be led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Brazil by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is to be succeeded by Dilma Rousseff – who won the recent elections and takes charge Jan 1.

The prime minister may also get to meet President-elect Rousseff if she joins Lula in Seoul, as scheduled.

‘The discussions at G20 will include these key areas — global economy, reform of multilateral financial institutions, financial regulation, protectionism, climate change and development, which is a new issue that was added in the previous Pittsburgh Summit,’ Rao told reporters here.

The Indian delegation, she added, will include the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who will be the sherpa, or the key pointsperson at the Summit, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

The G20, originally formed at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999 after the East Asian economic crisis, has assumed significance after it was elevated to a summit-level forum in 2008.

The member countries account for 90 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, 85 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the global population.

Besides India, South Korea, Brazil, US and Canada, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain, and the European Union.

Ahead of the G20 Summit, Manmohan Singh had said Monday that the world needed a new balance between deficit countries and surplus countries, referring to the US and China at the two ends of the spectrum shaking the currency markets.

‘This group (G20) will, I sincerely hope, grapple with this issue of rebalancing growth by laying emphasis on faster growth in the countries which are described normally as developing world,’ Manmohan Singh said.

‘That balance has to be restored by paying more attention to development and the development potential, including infrastructure development and energy, infrastructure, and agricultural infrastructure in the poorer countries of the world.’

In the run up to the Summit, India also secured a major say in global economic affairs with more weight for it, along with China, Brazil and Russia, on the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The reform, the most fundamental overhaul in the fund’s 65-year history, was approved Friday. It has also reduced the clout of European members, including Belgium and Germany, in the organisation.

India also expects the Seoul Summit to bring the Doha Round of global trade talks under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) back on track, and has already sought to bring key countries on board in this regard.

‘Through the G20 summit in Seoul, a strong articulation of political intent would lend the necessary momentum to negotiations,’ Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said recently after meeting key negotiators in Geneva.

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