The United States, others withdraw from APEC talks on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Representatives of the United States and several other countries pulled out of the Asia-Pacific Trade Ministers’ meeting in Bangkok on Saturday in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

A diplomat said the withdrawal was “an expression of rejection of Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region”.

Two Thai officials and two international diplomats told Reuters that representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia joined the Americans, led by Trade Representative Catherine Tay, in withdrawing from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.

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Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, saying it aimed to disarm and “discredit” its neighbor. Ukraine and the West say President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression that has killed thousands of civilians, driven millions of Ukrainians to flee and caused economic repercussions around the world.

Another diplomat said the five countries that organized the protest wanted “stronger language on the Russian war” in the group’s final statement to be issued on Sunday.

“The meeting will not be a failure if (a joint statement) is not issued,” Thai Trade Minister Gorin Laksanawisit told reporters, adding that the meeting was “going well” despite the withdrawal.

The withdrawal took place while Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting of the Group of 21 economies.

A Thai official said the delegations of five countries that organized the protest returned to the meeting after Reshetnikov finished speaking.

(Reporting by Banu Wongsha – Om and Banarat Thipjumbanat); Editing by William Mallard

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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