JAKARTA: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Group of 20 summit, the leader of host nation Indonesia said in an interview published Friday.
The pair’s attendance would set the stage for showdown talks with US President Joe Biden at a time when Washington is at odds with both of the rival powers, particularly over crises in Ukraine and Taiwan.
It has been unclear whether Putin and Xi would turn up to the November talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Moscow is isolated after its invasion of Ukraine, while the Chinese leader is limiting foreign trips because of Covid-19.
But President Joko Widodo, in an interview with Bloomberg, said both leaders would attend the G20 summit in person.
“Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” Widodo said, according to the report.
Kremlin officials said in June that Putin had accepted Widodo’s invitation to the summit, and would attend so long as the Covid-19 pandemic allowed him to.
Indonesia currently holds the rotating G20 presidency, putting it at the center of global affairs as war rages in Europe and with tensions at their highest level in years in the Taiwan Strait, where China lately conducted its largest-ever military drills.
Jakarta has come under Western pressure to exclude Putin from the G20 gathering after announcing in April he had been invited.
But Indonesia has maintained a neutral position and called for a peaceful resolution to the months-long conflict in Ukraine, with Widodo visiting both Kyiv and Moscow earlier this year.
Asked about Widodo’s comments, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told AFP that Russia and China “have received the invitation and said they would attend”.
“(It is) something that we are very much hopeful,” he added.
Widodo’s chief of staff declined to comment and his state secretary did not respond to a request for comment.
Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the summit with the world’s top economies, in a bid to foster compromise between the two countries.
The Ukrainian leader, whose country is not a G20 member, said he would attend at least virtually.
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov last month walked out of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali after Moscow’s military assault on its neighbor was roundly condemned.
Xi has not traveled internationally since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, only making his first visit outside the Chinese mainland last month to finance hub Hong Kong under strict security measures.