Gaza, Ukraine loom large as G20 foreign ministers meet

G20 foreign ministers open a two-day meeting Wednesday in Brazil, with the outlook bleak for progress on a thorny agenda of conflicts and crises, from the Gaza and Ukraine wars to growing polarization.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are both expected in Rio de Janeiro for the first high-level G20 meeting of the year — though not China's Wang Yi.

In a world torn by conflicts and divisions, Brazil, which took over the rotating G20 presidency from India in December, has voiced hopes for what President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva calls "the forum with the greatest capacity to positively influence the international agenda."

But Lula's bid to make the G20 a space for finding common ground suffered Sunday when the veteran leftist ignited a diplomatic firestorm by accusing Israel of "genocide," comparing its military campaign in the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust.

The comments drew outrage in Israel, which declared him "persona non grata," and could overshadow any bid to de-escalate the conflict via the G20.

"If Lula imagined he was going to propose peace resolutions on Israel or Ukraine, that just got swept off the table," international relations specialist Igor Lucena told AFP.

More than four months after the Gaza war started with Hamas fighters' unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which has vowed to wipe out the Islamist group in retaliation, there is little sign of progress toward peace.

A new U.N. Security Council resolution on a ceasefire was vetoed Tuesday by the United States, which said the text would endanger ongoing negotiations, including on the release of Hamas-held hostages.

The outlook is similarly downbeat on Russia's war in Ukraine, which also has G20...

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