G20: Blinken meets Lavrov as US and Russia trade barbs over Ukraine war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (top C) walks past Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (lower) during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (top C) walks past Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (lower) during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023. Copyright OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL / AFP
By Euronews with AP
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US officials said the top American and Russian diplomats met on the sidelines of the G20 conference in New Delhi. There is no sign of a change of stance on either side.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked briefly Thursday at a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 industrialised and developing nations in the first high-level meeting in months between the two countries.

US officials said Blinken and Lavrov spoke for roughly 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G20 conference in New Delhi. The short encounter came as relations between Washington and Moscow have plummeted while tensions over Russia’s war with Ukraine have soared.

A senior US official, speaking anonymously, said Blinken had “disabused” Lavrov of any idea they might have that American support for Ukraine is wavering.

The official declined to characterise Lavrov’s response but said Blinken did not get the impression that there would be any change in Russia’s behaviour in the near term.

Lavrov, who did not mention speaking with Blinken, told reporters that Moscow will continue to press its action in Ukraine. He shrugged off Western claims of Russia’s isolation, saying “we aren’t feeling isolated. It’s the West that has isolated itself, and it will eventually come to realise it.”

He said Russia remains open to talks on ending the conflict in Ukraine, but he accused the West of effectively blocking such talks.

“I don’t remember any Western colleagues calling on Ukraine to have talks,” he said. “They are encouraging Ukraine to continue the war.”

Top diplomats from the G20 ended their contentious meeting in New Delhi on Thursday with no consensus on the Ukraine war, India’s foreign minister said.

China joined Russia on Thursday in refusing to support the call for a withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

The two countries were the only G20 members not to endorse the statement demanding the "complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russia from the territory of Ukraine".

As at most international events since last year, the split over the war in Ukraine and its impact on global energy and food security overshadowed the proceedings. 

Host India had appealed for all members of the fractured G20 to reach consensus on issues of particular concern to poorer countries even if the broader East-West split over Ukraine could not be resolved.

The US official also said Blinken had told Lavrov that Russia should reverse its decision to suspend participation in the New START nuclear treaty and that Moscow should release detained American Paul Whelan.

Additional sources • AFP

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