Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – G20 leaders wrapped up an annual summit Sunday with a vow to reinvigorate the global economy, but geopolitical frictions sparked anew as Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Western anger over Ukraine.
Host Tony Abbott insisted that everyone including Putin — who left the Brisbane summit a little early — was on board the campaign to enact reforms that could infuse more than two trillion dollars into the global economy.
“I m happy to be on a unity ticket with Vladimir Putin on that subject,” the Australian prime minister told a news conference after the two-day summit, during which the two leaders put aside days of sniping to share a photograph with cuddly koala bears.
Nevertheless, Abbott insisted that he had had “very robust” discussions with Putin on the summit sidelines, and described the July downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine as “one of the most terrible atrocities of recent times”.
Putin broke protocol by delivering remarks to the media before the host leader s closing news conference, and then flew out shortly before the summit formally closed.
The Russian strongman said “some of our views do not coincide, but the discussions were complete, constructive and very helpful”.
But Western pressure redoubled earlier Sunday with a joint declaration from the United States, Australia and Japan.
The trio s leaders said in Brisbane that they were united in “opposing Russia s purported annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilise eastern Ukraine, and bringing to justice those responsible for the downing of Flight MH17”.
The West says the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, using a missile supplied by Russia. Moscow angrily denies the charges. The plane was carrying 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Channel Ten that Putin had come “under quite some pressure” from a number of G20 leaders because of the downing of MH17 and Russia s behaviour towards Ukraine.
She noted that Australia had been monitoring the presence of four Russian warships off its northern coast in recent days during the G20, which Moscow had deployed “just to remind everyone that Russia has a navy, I assume”.
The Group of 20 nations, which includes the United States and China, found agreement in vowing to “extinguish” the Ebola outbreak — albeit without any promise of hard cash — as it works to reboot growth in the world economy after the shock of the 2008 financial crisis.