At G20, Biden looks to fill hole left by Putin & Xi, shore up India ties

NEW DELHI: President Joe Biden arrived in New Delhi on Friday for a global summit where he will present the United States as an economic and strategic counterweight to China and Russia, taking advantage of the absence of leaders from those two countries, who are skipping the gathering.
Biden brought with him the promise of up to $200 billion in new development funds for climate change, food security, public health and other infrastructure needs in less developed countries through revamped international financing institutions like the World Bank, leveraged by a relatively small investment by the US.
The initiative represents a US-led response to China’s Belt and Road project providing loans to poorer countries to build ports, rail lines and telecommunications networks, a venture that has expanded Beijing’s influence in parts of the world where it rarely played much of a role before. Biden’s plan would match only a fraction of the Chinese investments in recent years but offers an alternative to Beijing’s presence as an omnipresent and often unforgiving creditor.
The president will have an important opportunity at the G20 meeting thanks to the decisions by President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia to not attend. Biden will have room to present a case to a large group of important world leaders that they should align with the US on matters that include condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine and curbing China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
The president plans to use the trip to shore up his relationship with the G20 host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is using the economic-focused meeting to showcase the promise and potential of a juggernaut Indian economy. Biden, who hosted Modi for a state dinner in Washington in June, met with the PM shortly after his arrival in New Delhi on Friday.
“What PM Modi has demonstrated, and what the US is leaning into, is a leader who is willing to make bets on the future of the country,” Nirav Patel, the chief executive of the Asia Group and deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific under President Barack Obama, said. “The diplomatic as well as political stability that Modi enjoys allows this relationship to be more fruitful, and Biden has leaned into that.”
It remains to be seen how much of a partner Modi will ultimately be in Biden’s broad efforts to counter China’s rising aggression in the Indo-Pacific. India, which remained non-aligned during the Cold War, has likewise refused to join the American-led coalition aiding Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces.
Biden is also expected to hold separate meetings with several other leaders while he is in New Delhi. The White House has not identified which leaders he will meet with, but many are watching to see if Biden sits down with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Biden’s envoys are trying to broker a diplomatic opening between Saudi Arabia and Israel that could transform the Middle East.

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