Asia-Pacific leaders condemn the war and renew calls for open trade

BANGKOK (AP) — Leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region have called for an end to Russia’s war on Ukraine They pledged to steer the region’s economies towards sustainable growth as the summit meetings conclude on Saturday.

Host Thailand got a diplomatic coup in managing divisions among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum by saying most members condemned the war. Russia is a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization, as is China, which has generally refrained from criticizing Moscow.

The declaration by APEC leaders acknowledged the differing views on the war and said the forum, which is largely dedicated to promoting trade and closer economic ties, was not a place to resolve such disputes.

But she noted that conflict and other security issues “could have serious consequences for the global economy.”

The leaders’ statement said most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it is causing massive human suffering and exacerbating inflation, supply chain problems, food insecurity and financial risks.

Like a statement released by the Group of 20 leading economies in Bali, Indonesia, earlier this week, it reiterated the wording of a March 2 UN General Assembly resolution that “deplores in the strongest terms the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and demands its” complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine”.

The meetings on Saturday concluded a series of events in Southeast Asian countries this week that gave leaders opportunities for face-to-face talks that were rare in the past two years of pandemic precautions.

Much of the activity at such summits takes place on the sidelines and in-between before and after formal meetings.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke briefly on Saturday before the start of the latest APEC meeting. Harris reiterated President Joe Biden’s call, in a meeting with Xi at the G20, for both sides to keep the lines of communication open.

Xi said he views his talks with Biden as a step toward the “next stage” in relations between the two largest economies, according to the Chinese government’s summary of the meeting.

Relations have deteriorated recently amid disagreements over trade, technology, Chinese claims to the separate governed island of Taiwan, human rights and other issues. But Harris told Xi that the United States “does not seek confrontation or conflict with China.”

I got a “handover” in the form of a symbolic “chalom” bamboo basket from the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The United States will host the APEC summit next year in San Francisco, with preliminary meetings to be held in other cities throughout the year.

Although summit meetings often veer away from other, more immediate concerns, APEC’s long-term mission is to foster close economic ties, and Prayuth opened Saturday’s meeting by urging leaders to advance APEC’s free trade agenda in the Pacific region.

“We have to prioritize turning this plan into action,” he said.

Security risks are not on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s official agenda, but Prayuth said North Korea’s numerous missile launches have been discussed and “everyone shares their concerns on the issue.”

On Friday, Harris and the leaders of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea met separately to raise concerns about the North Korean launch Earlier today, an intercontinental ballistic missile fell near the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

At both APEC in Thailand and at the G-20 meeting in Indonesia, officials seem to have chosen to agree to disagree on the war in Ukraine while expressing concern about its growing impact. In both Bangkok and Bali, countries that have refused to condemn the invasion have refrained from holding back statements highly critical of Moscow.

APEC members account for nearly four out of every 10 people and nearly half of global trade. Much of APEC’s work is technical and incremental, undertaken by senior officials and ministers, and covers areas such as trade, forestry, health, food, security, small and medium-sized enterprises, and women’s empowerment.

leaders The announcement was made Saturday He also called for promoting more clean energy use and more environmentally safe and sustainable food systems, among a set of goals that also address illegal, unregulated and unauthorized fishing, illegal logging, marine litter, improving public health and improving access to vaccines.

Other APEC members include Brunei, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. and vietnam.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was due to represent the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but did not attend after contracting COVID-19..

The summit venue, in Bangkok’s main convention center, is cordoned off by extensive gardens, with some streets closed to traffic. Riot police stood behind barricades at major intersections to keep protesters away.

On Friday, police clashed in another area of ​​Bangkok with demonstrators who seized the opportunity of the APEC meeting to renew calls for democratic reforms in Thailand and accused the government of promoting policies in APEC that favored big business over ordinary people. Several people were injured and a number of people were arrested.

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Associated Press journalists Elaine Kortenbach, Tian MacLeod G, Grant Peck, Jerry Harmer, and Tasani Vgpongsa contributed to this report.

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Follow APEC coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific-economic-cooperation

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