Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Bloomberg in an interview that he had received assurances from both Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin that they would attend the conference, scheduled for November on the Indonesian island of Bali.
“Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
The presence of the two authoritarian leaders will raise the stakes for the summit, the first G20 since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and heightened tensions over the Taiwan issue.
Neither Putin nor Xi attended last year’s G20 in Rome. Xi has only recently begun to travel outside mainland China as the Covid-19 pandemic eases.
The White House has not formally announced Biden’s trip to Asia for the summit, but officials say he is expected to attend.
US and Chinese officials are quietly working to arrange the first face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi since Biden took office ahead of November’s series of Asia summits: the G20 in Bali, a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Cambodia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Thailand.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have worsened in recent weeks following President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. China has stepped up military exercises and weapons tests and closed certain channels of communication with the United States.
During their last phone call, Biden and Xi both agreed to work towards a face-to-face meeting. Biden favors regular meetings with his foreign colleagues, even when tensions are high.
Biden and his advisers have been discussing how to approach the G20 if Putin is present for months, and it was a topic of discussion among fellow world leaders at the G7 summit in Germany earlier this summer and at a NATO summit in Brussels. in March .
In particular, officials said at the G7 meeting, leaders discussed ways to demonstrate a united front against Russia at the November conference.
Biden has said Russia should be expelled from the G20, and senior members of his administration have run away from G20 events attended by Russian officials.
But boycotting the G20 summit was not seriously considered, as Biden and his team did not want to appear as if they were handing over the table to Putin.
Instead, the US and other G7 countries encouraged Indonesia to invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a guest participant in a show of support for Ukraine.
In April, Treasury ministers from multiple countries, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, walked out of a closed G20 session in Washington as the Russian delegate began his prepared remarks, a demonstration of protest against Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine. Prior to the meeting, US officials had said Yellen would not participate in certain sessions of the meeting involving Russia.
At a meeting of G20 foreign ministers last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken challenged his colleagues to take a tougher line against Russia. He said that in order to remain relevant, the G20 must hold Moscow responsible for the invasion.