Indonesia’s Jokowi: Russian, Chinese presidents will attend G20 summit in Bali

Pizaro Gozali Idrus
Indonesia’s Jokowi: Russian, Chinese presidents will attend G20 summit in Bali Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) gestures following a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 30, 2022.
Alexander Zemlianichenko pool/AP

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET on 2022-08-20

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are both expected to attend the G20 summit in Bali in November, an adviser to Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Friday, after the Indonesian president who is hosting this year’s annual gathering of group leaders confirmed the news.

The meeting of the leaders of the world’s largest economies as well as the European Union promises to bring together the presidents of the three superpowers – the United States and its rivals, China and Russia – in a rare in-person encounter on the world stage.

“Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” Jokowi told Bloomberg News in an interview on Thursday.

The build-up to the meeting on the Indonesian island has been fraught in recent months with divisions within the G20 over Russia’s war in Ukraine. The gathering will take place against the backdrop of new tensions in Asia over Taiwan.

“That’s what he said,” Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, the presidential adviser, replied as BenarNews sought further confirmation about Jokowi’s comments.

“As the holder of the G20 residency, naturally Indonesia wants to ensure that the summit becomes a joint forum that is conducive … to global recovery from the pandemic and its various after-effects.”

Despite Jokowi’s apparent confirmation, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Jakarta said he had no information about Putin’s possible in-person attendance at the Bali summit. The Chinese Embassy, meanwhile, could not be immediately reached for comment.

G20 divisions

As the leader of Indonesia, this year’s holder of the rotating G20 presidency, Jokowi has sought unity within the G20 grouping of industrialized and emerging economies ahead of the summit.

In March, U.S. President Joe Biden, who is also expected to attend the summit, urged Jokowi to invite Ukraine as a guest if Russia was not expelled from the group for invading its smaller neighbor in late February. For Biden, the meeting in Bali with Xi and Putin in attendance could be the first time the three leaders will be in the same room since the American president took office in January 2021. Xi, for his part, has not traveled abroad in the more than two years since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in China.

Western countries have condemned Russia for invading Ukraine while members including China, Indonesia and India have refused to follow suit and maintain ties with Moscow.

During the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali in July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked out at least once in protest of what he called the “frenzied castigation” of Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

He took the action after top U.S., British, Canadian and Ukrainian financial diplomats walked out as a Russian official addressed a G20 meeting in Washington on April 20.

In Germany, where Jokowi attended the G7 summit of industrial nations as a guest in June, he reportedly said that Putin would not attend the G20 summit in person. The Kremlin, meanwhile, said Russia had an invitation and would decide later whether Putin will go to Bali.

From Germany, Jokowi traveled to Moscow where he said the Russian leader promised that he would secure safe sea passage of grain and fertilizer from the world’s breadbaskets, Russia and Ukraine.

On Thursday, the Russian Embassy said Jokowi and Putin recently spoke on the phone, where they discussed follow-up action to Jokowi’s visit, including ways to overcome a global food crisis.

Ramdhan Muhaimin, an international relations lecturer at Al Azhar University Indonesia, said Jakarta must continue to bring all G20 leaders together and get them to agree on pressing global issues such as the war in Ukraine.

“The Russia-Ukrainian war is affecting not only the two countries, but also the rest of the world,” he said.

“Moreover, if conflict in East Asia breaks out, then the world will be in a worse crisis,” he said, referring to tensions between China and Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.


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