President Biden meets with world leaders at the G20 summit in Indonesia
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
President Biden is meeting with world leaders today at the G-20 summit in Indonesia to discuss concerns about rising food and energy prices caused by Russia's war in Ukraine. The White House says G-20 leaders, or at least most of them, will come together at the end of the summit to condemn Moscow's actions. NPR's Franco Ordoñez is covering the president's trip to Asia. Franco, the president has spoken at the U.N. climate summit in Egypt, addressed leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia and met yesterday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. What are his objectives at this next stage at the G-20?
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Well, A, calling out Russia is a big part. Leaders of the G-20 are working, as you noted, a statement that, according to a senior administration official, will condemn Russia in, quote, "the strongest possible terms." The official says that Russia's war is the root cause of, quote, "immense economic and humanitarian suffering in the world." And I will note that not all the G-20 nations are going to sign on, but the official says that most will. He would not say which countries are not joining. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also weighed in at the conference by a video address pressing leaders to continue to isolate Russia. He asks for their help ending the war and also ensuring that Ukrainian grain exports continue to get safe passage to hungry nations. And he referred to the group as the G-19, which was a clear reference to exclude Russia. Another big theme is countering China.
MARTÍNEZ: All right, so let's get into that for a second, because China has made some pretty big inroads in Southeast Asia as well as other developing parts of the world. How is the West responding to that?
ORDOÑEZ: Biden is co-hosting an event with the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, as well as Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. The event is part of an initiative to raise $600 billion over the next five years to counter China's growing influence through funding of big infrastructure projects around the world. Biden announced billions in new investments, including $20 billion in financing for Indonesia to reduce emissions and expand clean energy projects, as well as $15 million to support India's health care system.
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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I want to emphasize the word investments - investments that are driven by local needs, development with our partners, and delivering real results to improve the lives of all of our people.
ORDOÑEZ: China has long been willing to provide fast cash to developing nations in ways that the United States has not. And when Biden and Xi met yesterday to discuss lowering tensions in the relationship, Biden told Xi that the United States was ready to compete vigorously.
MARTÍNEZ: Franco, what else will have your attention at the G-20?
ORDOÑEZ: Well, Biden is also set to sit down with the new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak. The two spoke by phone last month, but this will be their first face-to-face meeting since he was named prime minister. It's obviously a critical relationship, and both leaders have signaled they want to keep it that way. I'll also be watching to see if G-20 leaders remain healthy. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that he tested positive for COVID after hosting more than a dozen leaders at the ASEAN meetings, including Biden. And Biden yesterday said he had a cold. But the White House told reporters this morning that the president tested negative for the virus and was not considered a close contact as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez in Indonesia. Franco, thanks.
ORDOÑEZ: Hey, thanks, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.