G20 talks to focus on Russia-Ukraine war: ‘Not business as usual’ – National | Globalnews.ca

Foreign ministers from the world’s largest nations are seeking to address Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on global food and energy security when they meet in Indonesia this week. However, instead of providing unity, the talks may well exacerbate existing divisions over the Ukraine conflict.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the Group of 20 meeting in the Indonesian resort Bali, which will lay the groundwork for a G20 leaders’ summit at the same time. headquarters in November.

It will be the first time Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same room, let alone the same city, since January. There’s no indication the two will meet separately, but even without a one-on-one with Lavrov, Blinken could find himself in some tough discussions.

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The State Department announced Tuesday that Blinken will hold separate talks with Wang at a time when already extremely tense relations between the United States and China have worsened due to Beijing’s friendly ties with Moscow.

And, unlike recent leaders-level meetings with NATO partners and other like-minded partners, Blinken will find himself among diplomats from countries that are wary of the US approach to Ukraine and concerned about its impact on them.

US officials say that in addition to Wang, Blinken will hold bilateral talks in Bali with his counterparts from countries that have not agreed with the West on the Russian invasion, particularly India, which has increased purchases of Russian oil even as the United States The US and Europe have tried to stifle that revenue stream for Moscow.

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In announcing that Blinken would meet Wang in Bali, the State Department had little to say about the possibility of his meeting with Lavrov, whom the United States has avoided since the February invasion of Ukraine.

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The department said there would be no formal meeting between Blinken and Lavrov, whom US officials accuse of a lack of seriousness before, during and after the Ukraine invasion.

“We would like to see the Russians take diplomacy seriously,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “We haven’t seen that yet. We would like the Russians to give us a reason to meet bilaterally with them, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but the only thing we have seen emanating from Moscow is more brutality and aggression against the people and country of Ukraine.”

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The Biden administration maintains that there can be no “business as usual” with Moscow as long as the war continues. But neither Price nor other US officials could rule out the possibility of a chance meeting between Blinken and Lavrov in Bali, which would be the first since they last met in Geneva in January. Price refused to discuss what he called the “choreography” of the G-20.

Like almost all recent international diplomatic meetings, the Bali meeting will be overshadowed by Ukraine. But unlike the Western-dominated G-7 and NATO summits held in Europe last week, the G-20 will have a different flavor.

China and many other participants, including India, South Africa and Brazil, have resisted joining the US and Europe’s outright opposition to Russia’s invasion. Some have roundly rejected Western pleas to join in condemning the conflict, which the United States and its allies see as an attack on the rules-based international order that has prevailed since the end of World War II.

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Therefore, there may be difficulties in achieving a G20 consensus on efforts to mitigate the food and energy impacts of the Ukraine conflict, particularly with China and Russia in the room. That won’t stop the United States from trying, according to US officials.

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They want the G20 to back a UN-backed initiative to free up some 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain for export mainly to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“We would like the G-20 to hold Russia accountable and insist that it support this initiative,” said Ramin Toloui, Under Secretary of State for Economic and Trade Affairs.

While a variety of nations, including G20 host Indonesia, are pushing for Russia to ease its blockade on the Black Sea to allow grains to enter the global market, they remain wary of antagonizing Moscow and its friends in Beijing. .

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And that divergence has set the stage for a potentially contentious preparatory meeting ahead of November’s G-20 summit amid questions about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend.

The United States has made it clear that it does not think Putin should attend, but has urged Indonesia to invite Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy should the Russian leader participate.

Meanwhile, the US and China are at odds separately on numerous issues ranging from trade and human rights to Taiwan and disputes in the South China Sea.

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Blinken’s meeting with Wang was announced after China’s trade envoy to Washington raised concerns about US tariffs on Chinese imports in a call with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Neither side gave any indication that progress had been made on the matter, and US officials downplayed the chances of progress in the short term.

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In his meeting with Wang, US officials said Blinken would instead push to keep lines of communication open and create “security barriers” to guide the world’s two largest economies as they navigate increasingly difficult issues. complex and potentially explosive.

“It is absolutely critical that we have open lines of communication with our Chinese counterparts, particularly at the top level … to ensure that we avoid any miscalculations that could inadvertently lead to conflict and confrontation,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, the top diplomat. American for Asia.

From Bali, Blinken will travel to Bangkok, Thailand, to make up for a trip to the Thai capital that he was forced to cancel late last year due to COVID-19. In addition to Thai officials, Blinken will meet with refugees who have fled ongoing political violence and repression in Myanmar since a coup toppled a civilian government in February 2021.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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