Kashmir among likely venues for meetings ahead of G-20

THE LIST of possible destinations for upcoming G-20 meetings, which will set the stage for the group’s summit next year in the nation’s capital, includes Kashmir, Siliguri, the Rann of Kutch and Goa, The Indian Express has learned. Deliberations in this regard have taken place at the ongoing conference of state tourism ministers in Dharamshala, officials said.

The selection of Kashmir as one of the possible locations could have diplomatic repercussions, as some G-20 countries may have differing views on the situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the repeal of section 370.

In addition, India-based foreign diplomats, foreign officials and even India-based foreign journalists need special permission to visit J&K, which presents a procedural challenge for the government.

The more than 200 meetings to be held ahead of the G-20 summit on September 9-10 next year will mainly include meetings at ministerial and official levels. There will also be meetings at the level of diplomats based in India apart from non-governmental interactions: civil society groups, think tanks, businesses, media and other similar groupings from G-20 countries.

Several cultural and heritage sites are also likely to host some of these meetings, including UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, Hampi in Karnataka and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.


Focus on the valley

Following the repeal of Section 370, the government had arranged visits by diplomats and envoys from various countries to J&K’s Union Territory to emphasize normalcy in the Valley. Elevating Kashmir as a possible venue for G-20 meetings will take this exercise to the next level.

Addressing the conference in Dharamshala, Tourism Union Secretary Arvind Singh said there will be 215 meetings spread across 55 venues covering most of the states. The meetings will take place between January 1 and September 10, 2023.

The International Exhibition Cum Convention Center at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi is expected to be ready early next year for the summit. Prior to that, the nation’s capital will undergo a beautification campaign, particularly in areas around hotels, public spaces and roads leading from the international airport to the summit venue.

Officials said the upcoming G-20 presidency will also be used as an opportunity to make India a favorite tourist destination. Delegates arriving for various meetings will be taken on familiarization tours to scenic spots across the country.

During India’s G-20 chairmanship, as many as 250 cultural events will be held on the sidelines of key meetings for delegates, officials from the culture ministry said.

India will assume the chairmanship of the G-20 for one year from December 1, 2022 and will invite Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the United Arab Emirates as invited countries to the summit.

The G-20 is an intergovernmental forum made up of 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US — and EU.

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