At least four world leaders are skipping the G20 summit in Rome, according to Reuters report on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that he would definitely not attend the summit in person but will follow proceedings via video link instead.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying Putin’s decision was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Russia registering record deaths and new cases in recent days.
The second leader to formally pull out is Japan’s new prime minister Fumio Kishida because his country is holding a general election on Oct. 31.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also is not going to attend the Oct. 30-31 meeting as he has rarely traveled abroad since taking charge of Mexico in 2018. Obrador skipped the last in-person G20 summit held in Japan in 2019 before COVID-19 hit.
A spokesman for Obrador said he would send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in his place.
In the same vein, a diplomatic source in Rome has revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping was unlikely to come.
There was also uncertainty over whether Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would show up but nothing is confirmed yet.
By contrast, U.S. President Joe Biden has confirmed he will attend, with the leaders of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the European Union also all expected.
In a speech earlier this month, the COP26 President Alok Sharma said G20 countries, which account for 80 percent of global emissions, had to step up ahead of the Glasgow meeting.
“The response of the G20 will quite simply be make, or break,” he said in a speech in Paris.