As G20 Opens, India’s Modi says African Union to Join Group

Associated Press/

NEW DELHI — The African Union has been granted permanent member status in the Group of 20 top world economies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday, adding momentum to his drive to give a greater voice to the Global South as host of this year’s annual summit.

The announcement during Modi’s opening speech for the weekend summit of the G20 comes as growing global rifts and the absence of key players threatened to make reaching consensus on the thorniest issues elusive.

There was widespread support, however, for adding the AU to the G20, making it the second regional bloc to become a permanent member after the European Union.

Modi rapped his gavel three times before announcing the move to applause in the room.

He shook hands with the current AU chair, Comoros President Azali Assoumani, and embraced him warmly before inviting him to sit at the table.

“I invite the representative of the African Union to take his place as a permanent member of the G20,” Modi said.

Modi addressed the delegates from behind a nameplate that listed his country not as India but as “Bharat,” an ancient Sanskrit name championed by his Hindu nationalist supporters that his government has been pushing at the G20.

Modi has made giving voice to the Global South a centerpiece of this year’s summit, and adding the AU at the outset was a strong step in that direction.

He told leaders that they must find “concrete solutions” to the widespread challenges that he said stemmed from the “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, cyber security, health and water security.

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