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Putin G20 decision some way off: Australia

03 september 2014, 16:03
0
Russian leader Vladimir Putin. ©AFP
Russian leader Vladimir Putin. ©AFP

 A decision on whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be invited to the G20 summit in November is still some way off, host Australia said Wednesday, with NATO allies to be consulted this week, AFP reports.

Australia's trade minister warned on Tuesday that opposition to Putin's presence at the Group of 20 meeting in Brisbane was growing over Russia's action in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would be speaking with NATO members at their summit in Wales to canvas opinion, but there was time for the Russian president to prove why he should still be at the table.

"Let me be clear about this, I didn't say I was going to NATO to lobby in relation to President Putin's attendance at the G20," she told reporters before leaving for Wales.

"What I did say is I expect the matter to be discussed. It would be naive to think it wouldn't come up for discussion.

"But the point is this, there are a number of international meetings before the G20," she said, pointing to the APEC forum in Beijing and the East Asia summit in Myanmar.

"I think we'll have a better idea of the international community's attitude and indeed President Putin's attitude to attending these meetings before we consider the G20."

Bishop added that as the rotating G20 host Australia's role was to "consult and to reach a consensus".

"But we are some way from that decision and of course we take soundings, and I've no doubt people will raise it with me, but it is not Australia's call," she said.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used tough language recently against Russia -- particularly since a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard including 38 Australian citizens or residents.

Speaking on commercial radio on Tuesday he said Russia had been playing "nasty games" in Ukraine and accused it of bullying its smaller neighbour.

"It is an invasion -- let's call it for what it is -- it is an invasion of Ukraine and it's absolutely, utterly reprehensible," he said.

Russian policymakers have an almost visceral hate for NATO, feeling that the West reneged on understandings at the end of the Cold War that military blocs would disappear.

In June, Russia was axed from a G7 meeting in Brussels over its annexation of Crimea, with Putin cold-shouldered by the United States and its allies since the March seizure of the peninsula.


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