JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) – Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are both planning to attend a Group of 20 (G-20) summit in the resort island of Bali later this year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.
“Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” Mr Widodo, more popularly known as Jokowi, said in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait on Thursday (Aug 18).
It was the first time the leader of the world’s fourth-most populous nation confirmed both of them were planning to show up at the November summit.
The presence of Mr Xi and Mr Putin at the meeting would set up a showdown with US President Joe Biden and other democratic leaders, all of whom are set to meet in person for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The attack, which came shortly after Mr Putin and Mr Xi declared a “no limits” partnership, has left the G-20 divided over whether to place sanctions on Russia.
China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on travel plans for Mr Xi, who hasn’t travelled abroad since the start of the pandemic.
A Kremlin spokesman declined to comment but another official familiar with the situation confirmed Mr Putin currently plans to attend the meeting in person.
Mr Putin and Mr Widodo discussed preparations for the G-20 summit in Bali in a phone call Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement that didn’t mention whether the Russian leader will attend.
Mr Putin’s attendance could also bring him face to face with Mr Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since Russia’s invasion because the Ukrainian president is also slated to be in Bali.
Mr Biden had called for Russia to be removed from the G-20 following its invasion of Ukraine, and US officials had earlier been pressuring Indonesia to exclude Mr Putin from the Bali summit.
Tensions are also soaring between the US and China, even as Mr Biden and Mr Xi leave open the possibility of holding their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the Bali summit.
China cut off talks with the US on defence and a range of other areas after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, while the White House has criticised Beijing’s military drills around the island.
“The rivalry of the big countries is indeed worrying,” Mr Widodo, 61, said in the interview. “What we want is for this region is to be stable, peaceful, so that we can build economic growth. And I think not only Indonesia: Asian countries also want the same thing.”
As the current G-20 host, Indonesia has sought to balance ties between major powers while resisting pressure to exclude Russia from meetings.