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Despite specter of Putin, EU chief says G20 should go ahead

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the potential presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at November’s G20 summit in Indonesia shouldn’t be a reason for Western leaders to block the meeting.

“We have to consider very carefully whether we paralyze the entire G20; I don’t advocate that,” von der Leyen told German broadcaster ZDF on Sunday evening, during the G7 summit in the German Alps. “In my opinion, G20 is too important, also for the developing countries, the emerging countries, that we should let this body be broken by Putin.”

“I think it’s better — if he does come — to tell him to his face what we think. And then he should also take a stand,” she added.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited Putin to the G20 summit, despite calls by Western countries to exclude him because of Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. Widodo has tried to reach a compromise by also inviting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, despite Ukraine not being a G20 country.

There is currently no consensus among Western leaders on whether to boycott the G20 over Russian involvement. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday he is still deciding whether to go to the summit if the Russian leader also attends.

“In the end, we will have to make the decision shortly before the departure, because the course of the world can still change very considerably until then,” Scholz told ZDF.

“The G20 plays a major role and we want to work closely with them,” he continued, adding: “That is why we share the conviction — which Ms. von der Leyen also expressed — that we do not want to torpedo the G20.”

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