Abbott officially welcomes leaders to G20

If Vladimir Putin was worried about being shirtfronted, he wasn’t showing it.


Mr Putin was all smiles as was Tony Abbott when the prime minister welcomed the Russian hard man to the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Abbott famously announced last month he would “shirtfront” Mr Putin over Russia’s support for separatists who allegedly shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, resulting in the deaths of 298 people including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Most observers have described the encounter as cordial and it seemed to be the friendliest the two men have been in each other’s company during several meetings, including in Beijing earlier in the week.

Some wondered, however, about a two-fingered hand gesture Mr Putin made during the encounter.

But Mr Abbott was in genial host mode as he greeted Mr Putin and the other G20 leaders at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre at Southbank.

There were smiles all round as one leader after another, including close friends Canada’s Stephen Harper and the UK’s David Cameron, lined up for the handshake and photo.

Indian president Narendra Modi, the first Indian leader to visit Australia in 28 years, warmly hugged Mr Abbott, while US President Barack Obama was all comfortable smiles as the last to be greeted.

The leaders watched a welcome to country ceremony before Mr Abbott addressed the group and told the leaders that it’s up to governments to show that they can deliver growth.

“This is our message to the world that governments can deliver, that governments can agree that the world can be better, that there can be higher growth and more jobs,” Mr Abbott told delegates as he opened the two-day summit in Brisbane.

“That’s what the world expects of us, they want more growth, they want more jobs.”

Mr Abbott, the chair of the G20 Summit, was seated at the oval table between US president Barack Obama and Argentina’s representative, Axel Kicillof.

The seating was in alphabetical order, with Russian president Vladimir Putin between the Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye.

Mr Abbott said the leaders were embarking on a series of important reforms, including freer trade, more infrastructure and fiscal consolidation.

“We believe as a result of the work that we will do, the world can grow more than two per cent more over the next five years than what would otherwise be the case,” he said.