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U.S., Other Western Allies Walk Out Of APEC Talks Over Russian Invasion of Ukraine

U.S., Other Western Allies Walk Out Of APEC Talks Over Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Representatives of the United States and several other Western nations walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok on Saturday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

The walkout at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which was founded in 1989 to boost growth by promoting economic integration and trade among its members, was “an expression of disapproval at Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region,” one diplomat told Reuters News Service. Another diplomat said the five countries that staged the protest wanted “stronger language on Russia’s war” in the group’s final statement to be issued on Sunday.

The walkout took place while Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was delivering remarks at the opening of the two-day meeting from the group representing 21 different global economies. Representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia joined the Americans, led by Trade Representative Katherine Tai, in walking out of the APEC meeting, two Thai officials and two international diplomats told Reuters.

A statement from the office of New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said he walked out “in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has slowed the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and made it harder for people in the region to get food on their tables. He walked out in good company.”

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Western nations have imposed tough diplomatic and economic sanctions on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, but many APEC member nations, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America, have distanced themselves from such moves. The war in Ukraine has raised major trade issues because it has disrupted supply chains, especially in the food sector.

The delegations from the five countries that staged the protest returned to the meeting after Reshetnikov finished speaking.

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