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World leaders discuss high food and energy costs at the G20 summit

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Group of 20 is meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, and they have their work cut out for them. G-20 leaders are trying to reach consensus on how to tackle climate change and national debts and food security - or lack thereof - even as war in Ukraine has disrupted food shipments, including shipments to Indonesia. NPR's Emily Feng is in Bali for us today. Hey there, Emily.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Flesh out this agenda bit for us because it sounds like a lot.

FENG: It is. And on top of world hunger and war that leaders are grappling with, a lot of the agenda was actually overshadowed at first by this highly anticipated meeting between President Biden and China's leader Xi Jinping - these leaders of two competing superpowers that are trying to avoid a second Cold War.

KELLY: Yeah.

FENG: And the meeting last night actually appeared to be a modest success, so that's good, with both men appearing open to improving the relationship. But this is just the beginning. And today, there was more work. President Biden and leaders from other countries are working on securing commitments on clean energy and climate to make sure that the world meets its climate goals as previously agreed to by world leaders and does not overheat the globe by too much.

KELLY: Stay with those climate commitments for a sec. Was there anything concrete - any agreement on that?

FENG: Well, what's new today is the U.S., Japan and Indonesia announced a partnership. They're going to invest millions of dollars into clean energy infrastructure - mainly electric vehicle development in Indonesia. And Europe and the U.S. are funding these smaller projects in public health, from India to the Honduras. And this is part of a bigger push ongoing with partners like the European Union to build clean infrastructure and public health programs. And it's designed in part to compete with China's own global infrastructure push called the Belt and Road Initiative, which, over about the last nearly decade, has spent huge amounts across the developing world. And it's all part and parcel of Biden's effort to rally American allies in the region and beyond and strengthen those relationships - and, again, here it comes back to China - so the U.S. can fortify its presence here in the Pacific in case tensions with China do rise.

KELLY: OK. Let me turn you to the war in Ukraine and the ongoing challenge we mentioned of getting grain shipments out of Ukraine. Russia has been blockading those - any progress there?

FENG: Not yet because G-20 has been overshadowed by the fact that the two men at the heart of this conflict, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia's Vladimir Putin, did not show up to G-20. There had been this faint hope they might come and find some way to broker peace. But in their absence, Zelenskyy instead gave a video speech today. He had just finished a trip to the Ukrainian city of Kherson, newly liberated from Russian control. And in his video speech to the G-20, he pushed back against any potential negotiation with Russia. He basically said that Ukraine would continue fighting, especially when he thought there was a good chance of total victory now.

But in general, Russia's invasion has really divided the countries that are present here at the G-20. The U.S. and Europe are pushing really hard to get other countries to condemn the invasion, but not all of them want to, including Indonesia, the host country. So that's quite awkward. And right before the summit, there was this question of - will there be any agreement at all? Can they put out a joint declaration at the end? But I was able to see a draft version of the declaration here that so far has been approved by all 20 participants, including Russia. And it contains a reference to the, quote, "war in Ukraine," but it's been worded in a way to show that there was significant pushback to condemn that, showing once again that this war has split the world in a way that could not be bridged this time by dialogue.

KELLY: NPR's Emily Feng getting us up to speed on what is happening with the G-20 meetings underway in Indonesia. Thank you, Emily.

FENG: Thank you, Mary Louise.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Emily Feng is NPR's Beijing correspondent.