We're all grateful to PM Modi for his presidency, for India's presidency of G20: US

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We're all grateful to PM Modi for his presidency, for India's presidency of G20: US

Tuesday, 19 September 2023 | PTI | New York

We're all grateful to PM Modi for his presidency, for India's presidency of G20: US

The US is grateful to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the G20 presidency and President Joe Biden returned from the leaders' summit in Delhi feeling "very positive and optimistic", a senior White House official said.

Biden "came away from the G20 feeling very positive and optimistic about the direction. I mean, there was an awful lot of great work done at the G20 and we're all grateful to Prime Minister Modi for his presidency, for India's presidency of it, but also for the way the agenda was executed," National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said at a press briefing in response to a question by PTI.

"It was a very, very productive couple of days," Kirby said, referring to the G20 Leaders' Summit held in Delhi on September 9 and 10 under the Indian presidency of the grouping of the world's biggest economies.

Kirby addressed reporters at the New York Foreign Press Center here Monday on US priorities for the high-level 78th session of the UN General Assembly that started here as well as on other foreign policy issues.

Biden is scheduled to address leaders of the 193-member General Assembly Tuesday at the opening of the General Debate in the iconic UNGA hall.

Kirby further said that during the high-level week, there are no bilateral discussions on Biden's agenda with the Indian delegation.

He added that Biden had a chance to "spend quite a bit of time" with Modi bilaterally in Delhi in addition to the G20 agenda. "So I'm not aware of any specific India-focused meetings on his agenda while he's here in New York."

In response to another question on presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the UNGA taking away attention from priorities of the Global South, Kirby said in his address to the General Assembly Tuesday, Biden will talk about the Global South and "talk about all that we've been doing in this administration to pay attention to the global health, the economic, the food insecurity concerns, and the investment needs, infrastructure investment needs of the Global South.”

"We have – at this last G20, we announced a ship and rail corridor that will connect India to Europe through the Middle East and Italy. So he's (Biden) very much focused on meeting the needs and addressing the concern of the Global South, and it's been a priority for him since – again, since day one. You will hear him talk about this tomorrow," Kirby said.

The ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) was jointly announced by the leaders of the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi. The new economic corridor is seen as an alternative to China's controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEC is expected to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe. The IMEC will comprise two separate corridors, the east corridor connecting India to the Arabian Gulf and the northern corridor connecting the Arabian Gulf to Europe. It will include a railway that, upon completion, will provide a reliable and cost-effective cross-border ship-to-rail transit network to supplement existing maritime and road transport routes – enabling goods and services to transit to, from, and between India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Principles of an India – Middle East – Europe Economic Corridor said.

Kirby added that one of the other things Biden spearheaded at the G20 Summit is the need for reform of multilateral development banks to provide lower and middle-income countries high-quality and more transparent alternatives to seek financing and support for infrastructure and investment – economic investment across the board, but largely for infrastructure. "So we want to make sure – and he has asked Congress for additional funding, several billion dollars, that we can provide to the World Bank that will hopefully encourage other like contributions by other nations, which could lead to more than USD 20 billion worth of available financing from the World Bank for the Global South."

Kirby said that a lot of the challenges for countries of the Global South have been exacerbated, if not caused, by Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. "Now, the Russians would have you believe it's the West's fault, that they're not at fault. They're never at fault. But they are".

"The food insecurity, the economic problems – a lot of that has been caused – the inflation that many of these nations are facing – a lot of that has been caused by Mr. Putin's war on Ukraine, and particularly when it comes to food insecurity. And now they have, of course, just recently decided not to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative. So who's going to pay the highest cost of that? Obviously, the Ukrainian people continue to pay the highest cost, but it will also be borne by lower- and middle-income countries in the Global South," he said.

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