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Geopolitics to stay in focus at APEC summit in Thailand

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2022-11-17T09:45:03Z

Leaders gathering for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Thailand should “rise above differences”, the host said on Thursday, after a series of summits in the region were dominated by geopolitical tension over the war in Ukraine.

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the meeting of the 21-member bloc, which starts Friday, “takes place at a pivotal juncture” with the world facing multiple risks.

“Cancel mentality… permeates every conversation and action, (and) makes any compromise appear impossible,” he said in a statement after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers ahead of the main summit.

“That’s why APEC this year must rise above these challenges and deliver hope to the world at large.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at a pre-summit business event said the focus of meetings would be “new trade and investment narratives… the need to reconnect supply chains and travel, and the global sustainability agenda”.

On the APEC sidelines, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to have talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida later in the day. Xi had been due to give an address to a business forum but cancelled, organisers said.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are among those also attending the main meeting, while French President Emmanuel Macron is a special guest.

The APEC meeting comes on the heels of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Bali where countries unanimously adopted a declaration saying most members condemned the war in Ukraine, but that also acknowledged some countries saw the conflict differently.

Host Indonesia said the Ukraine war had been the most contentious issue.

The war also figured prominently at the East Asia Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits in Cambodia at the weekend, as did the crisis in Myanmar, whose ruling generals were barred from attending due to failure to follow a peace process.

On Thursday, as leaders prepared for the APEC meeting, the junta in neighbouring Myanmar announced it would free 5,774 political prisoners, among them a Japanese filmmaker, a former British ambassador and an Australian economist and former adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi,

Activists and the military’s opponents welcomed the amnesty, but warned the world not to be tricked by the junta, which they said was using people as bargaining chips.

Tensions also simmered elsewhere at the G20 summit in Bali when Xi criticised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in person over alleged leaks of their closed-door meeting, a rare public display of annoyance by the Chinese leader.

Russia is a member of both G20 and APEC but President Vladimir Putin has stayed away. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov will stand in for him at APEC.

Related Galleries:

Delegates walk inside the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center where the APEC summit will be held, in Bangkok, Thailand, November 14, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the 33rd APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) plenary session, during the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa/Pool

Delegates attend the 33rd APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) plenary session, during the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Pool

Riot police officers stand guard near Queen Sirikit National Convention Center where the APEC summit will be held, in Bangkok, Thailand, November 16, 2022. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

Riot police officers stand guard in front of the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center where the APEC summit will be held, in Bangkok, Thailand, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

General view of the 33rd APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) plenary session, during the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa/Pool
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