The Group of 20 economic summit has added the African Union as a permanent member, Indian President Narendra Modi announced Saturday, as the group gaveled in its annual meeting in New Delhi, India.
The G-20 now includes 21 members — 19 individual member states plus the European and African Unions.
Adding the African Union has been a popular movement among G-20 members. President Biden officially requested the change last December.
“We need more African voices in international conversations,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said last year, saying the inclusion of the African Union would allow the continent to be better represented on matters of the economy, climate, health policy and national security.
South Africa was previously the continent’s only representation at the summit. The African Union includes membership of every country on the continent and is represented at the G-20 by its chairman, Comoros President Azali Assoumani.
In his opening remarks, Modi also addressed the earthquake which shook Morocco Friday night, killing at least 800 people.
He also urged “concrete solutions” to global problems that stem from “ups and downs in the global economy, the north and the south divide, the chasm between the east and the west,” and other issues like terrorism, cybersecurity, health and water security, he said.
A draft version of the summit’s closing remarks do not include mention of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported, a key omission which has been at the center of G-20 negotiations in recent days.
The leaders of China and Russia chose not to attend the event, likely to avoid face-to-face conversations with Ukraine’s western allies and for other disputes. Each country sent lower-level representatives on their leaders’ behalf.
The agenda for the summit focuses on developing nations, a trend pushed by Modi. India’s G-20 negotiator Amitabh Kant told The AP that climate funding and technology for developing states is a priority.
“Our view was that Global South, developing countries, emerging markets must be able to get long-term financing,” he said.
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