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Modi Attends G7 Summit in Italy: Strengthening Ties Amid Global Turmoil

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his first foreign trip of his third term, attending the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy. The summit brings together leaders from Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Modi’s re-election, albeit with a reduced mandate, places him in a pivotal position to engage with Western leaders, most of whom are facing elections amid global challenges primarily involving Russia and China.

The Western world seeks India’s support, recognizing its growing economic influence. This marks India’s 11th participation in the G7 Summit and Modi’s fifth consecutive appearance.

Agenda and Bilateral Talks

Prime Minister Modi will participate in the G7 Outreach Summit, focusing on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

“During the discussions at the Outreach session, the focus would be on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean. It will be an opportunity to bring greater synergy between the outcomes of the G20 Summit held under India’s Presidency and the forthcoming G7 Summit, and deliberate on issues which are crucial for the Global South,” Modi stated.

Significant bilateral talks are scheduled, particularly with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who has visited India twice in the past year, enhancing the India-Italy strategic partnership.

“Prime Minister Meloni’s two visits to India last year were instrumental in infusing momentum and depth in our bilateral agenda. We remain committed to consolidating the India-Italy strategic partnership and bolstering cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the Mediterranean regions,” Modi noted.

A notable moment of India’s centrality to the G7 was when PM Meloni greeted several heads of government with a ‘namaste’. Modi will also hold bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Additionally, Modi is likely to speak with Pope Francis, who will address the outreach session.

India’s Increasing Importance to the G7

 India, under Modi’s leadership, has been a regular invitee to G7 meetings, reflecting its significant economic and democratic role. India is poised to become the fourth-largest economy globally, surpassing Japan and trailing only the US and Germany among G7 nations. This economic stature places India at the heart of global policy discussions.

Following the G20 Summit in Delhi, India aims to position itself as the leader of the Global South, a role underscored by its proactive stance on climate change debates. Hosting the summit in Apulia, southern Italy, Italian PM Meloni signaled a commitment to engaging with the Global South.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra emphasized, “India’s participation at this G7 Summit acquires particular salience in context of India’s recently held presidency of the G20, where India took a leading role in building global consensus on a number of contentious issues.”

As the West seeks to counter China economically and geopolitically, India’s role becomes increasingly crucial. The G7 draft summit statement criticized China for “dangerous” actions in the South China Sea and “harmful” industrial overcapacity. With the West opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s neutral stance enhances its value as a Western ally despite its neutrality. Modi also met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the summit’s sidelines.

Meeting Biden, Avoiding Trudeau

Modi’s interaction with US President Joe Biden is anticipated on the summit’s sidelines. This follows their bilateral discussions in Delhi before the G20 summit hosted by India. While a formal bilateral meeting isn’t guaranteed, a brief interaction is likely due to scheduling constraints.

The meeting with Biden may not mirror the camaraderie of Modi’s state visit to the US last year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan indicated that the thwarted murder-for-hire plot against Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun would remain a topic of discussion at high levels between the US and India. Diplomatic sources suggest this issue could surface during the Modi-Biden meeting.

No meeting is scheduled between Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reflecting ongoing tensions between India and Canada. Their recent social media exchange, where Trudeau congratulated Modi on his election victory and Modi responded, showed no signs of thawing relations. However, with both leaders attending the G7 summit, Modi might address the issue of political space given to anti-India elements in Canada.

India’s strategic positioning at the G7 Summit underscores its growing global influence. It plays a crucial role in addressing major international issues, aligning itself with the West while advocating for the Global South.

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