September 28, 2023 11:06 AM

G20 ‘Head Hunt’: It’s Not Uncommon for Top Leaders to Skip These Summits

Since the inception of the G20 summit in 2008, almost all of the events have witnessed the participation of the heads of state or government. However, it is not uncommon for some country leaders to skip the summit.

The list of country leaders who have attended each of the summit events includes India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, and leaders from the European Union. The first three G20 summits in 2008 and 2009 saw the participation of leaders from all 20 regular member countries, as well as European Union representatives.

The fourth G20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010 marked the first year when two country heads, from Australia and Brazil, did not attend. The Australian delegation was led by its deputy prime minister, Wayne Swan, while Brazil was represented by its finance minister, Guido Mantega.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia decided not to attend the November 2010 G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea. The Saudi delegation was led by its foreign minister, Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Since then, the King of Saudi Arabia has mostly chosen to skip the G20 summits, entrusting the responsibility to other princes or ministers in the country. The King did not participate in the 2013, 2015, and 2020 summits. The year 2020 marked Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency, with the summit originally scheduled to be held in its capital city, Riyadh. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, it was held virtually, with all country leaders addressing it remotely.

The Saudi delegation in the 2011 G20 Cannes, France, and 2012 Los Cabos, Mexico summits, were led by its finance minister, Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf. In the 2014 G20 Brisbane, Australia summit, the delegation was led by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who became king in 2015 upon the death of his half-brother, King Abdullah, and participated in the 2015 G20 Antalya, Turkey summit.

The 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit saw the Saudi delegation led by its deputy crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, who also represented the country in the 2018, 2019, and 2022 editions as the nation’s crown prince. In the 2017 and 2021 summits, the country was represented by its ministers.

The 2013 G20 Saint Petersburg summit saw the Australian side represented by its minister of foreign affairs, Bob Carr. Country leaders of Argentina and Saudi Arabia skipped the 2014 edition in Australia. The 2015 summit saw the presidents of France and Argentina not attending it.

In 2018 and 2019, the heads of two countries skipped the summits. As mentioned earlier, the Saudi king did not attend either edition. The Indonesian president didn’t participate in the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit in Argentina while the Mexican president skipped the 2019 G20 Osaka summit.

The 2021 Rome summit in Italy saw the largest number of G20 regular country leaders skipping the event due to Covid-19 concerns.

The Chinese G20 delegation was led by its foreign affairs minister, Wang Yi, while Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed it remotely. The Russian delegation was led by finance minister Anton Siluanov. Japan was represented by Toshimitsu Motegi, minister for foreign affairs, and Mexico’s delegation was led by secretary of foreign affairs Marcelo Ebrard. The South African side was led by Naledi Pandor, its minister of international relations and cooperation, while Saudi Arabia was represented by its minister of foreign affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

The 2022 Bali summit in Indonesia was skipped by the country leaders of Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin chose not to attend due to Western criticism and sanctions following the initiation of his country’s war with neighbouring Ukraine.

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