Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed Vladimir Putin’s attendance at the G20 meeting next month but he will face a frosty reception from world leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been told to expect a “full and frank dialogue” over Ukraine and the MH17 disaster when he attends the G20 meeting in Brisbane.
The government confirmed the Russian leader would attend the leaders summit in November, despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott again saying he is not happy with many aspects of Russia’s foreign policy.
Australia has faced calls to ban Mr Putin from the Brisbane meeting after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by Russian-backed rebels over Ukraine in July.
But Treasurer Joe Hockey spoke to Russia’s finance minister in Washington over the weekend and confirmed Mr Putin will be at the leaders’ summit next month.
“That has certainly been the consensus of other members of the G20 that President Putin should attend,” Mr Hockey told ABC television on Sunday.
“I think there will be some full and frank dialogue with President Putin at that meeting.”
Mr Abbott said while there was much to deplore about Russia’s foreign policy and its “blatant aggression” towards its smaller neighbour, the G20 was an international gathering that operated by consensus.
“Russia is a member of the G20 and as such, we’re obliged to accept the Russian leader in this country,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
The prime minister acknowledged Australians would be angered by Mr Putin’s attendance in the wake of the MH17 atrocity, which claimed the lives of 38 residents and citizens.
But Mr Abbott said he would press the Russian president to co-operate with the investigation into the disaster and to hand over anyone who played a part in the downing of the aircraft.
“What I will be wanting from the Russian president is an assurance from him that he and Russia will do everything they can to ensure that now, at least, justice is done,” he said.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who has said Mr Putin would not be welcome in his state, believed G20 leaders would convey their anger over the Malaysia Airlines tragedy.
“It was a crime, and I know that people around that G20 table will be making it perfectly clear to him,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Labor leader Bill Shorten says the Abbott government should have used Australia’s leverage as G20 host and UN Security Council member to block Mr Putin’s attendance.
Most Australians would be extremely uncomfortable about welcoming the Russian president to Brisbane, he said.
“I am very disappointed the Abbott government has gone from talking tough to trying to pretend Putin coming here isn’t an issue Australians are concerned about,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.