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Home » Russia ‘Not Constructive’ at ASEAN Talks, US Says, Shows No Change on Ukraine

Russia ‘Not Constructive’ at ASEAN Talks, US Says, Shows No Change on Ukraine

by Chhem Kravann
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov had not been constructive during this week’s meeting between top diplomats from major powers and their Southeast Asian counterparts.

Speaking after the Asean Regional Forum – which involved the foreign ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states and key strategic partners such as China, the US, India and Russia – Blinken said Lavrov used his interventions to attack Washington.

The meeting in Jakarta marked only the second time Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same room since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year. They last saw each other in New Delhi in March, on the sidelines of a G20 meeting.

“He focused on the United States, unlike any other country, on a totally negative presentation agenda, in which he effectively attributed every problem in the world to the United States,” Blinken told reporters.

“I didn’t hear anything from Foreign Minister Lavrov that suggested any change in direction concerning what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” Blinken said.

On China, Blinken reiterated Washington’s oft-stated position that the US was “like many countries in the region … concerned by the PRC’s growing assertiveness in the South and East China Seas and on the Taiwan Strait”.

The US diplomat met China’s foreign policy chief Wang Yi on Thursday for more than 90 minutes, less than a month after his visit to Beijing.

In a statement on Friday, the Chinese foreign ministry quoted Wang as saying the two countries should find ways to stop “grey rhinos” and handle “black swans” – high-impact or unexpected events – and create conditions to stabilise US-China relations.

“The US needs to take a rational and pragmatic approach, work with China in the same direction … expand communication channels in diplomatic and security fields, make their communication more effective, and promote smooth people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also discussed Lavrov’s presentation, saying the minister spoke “very aggressively” and vowed that Moscow’s war in Ukraine would continue.

Lavrov said “everything is a ‘West conspiracy’ and the war will continue … as Russia is not at all ready to stop the aggression and withdraw troops”, Borrell said.

The Russian foreign minister did not speak to the media following the meeting.

But in an interview with Indonesian media earlier this week, Lavrov stated that the war in Ukraine would not end until Western nations give up their efforts to “defeat” Russia.

Earlier on Friday, Blinken held talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korea’s top diplomat Park Jin, who were also attending the forum.

Blinken said at the start of that meeting that he had “lost count” of the number of times the three of them had met in the last two years, amid strengthening ties and increasing concerns about China’s assertiveness and the threat posed by North Korea.

“It’s evidence of the fact that our three countries are joined in a common vision, a common approach to the future of the region that we share: a free and open Indo-Pacific; one that is secure, prosperous, connected, resilient,” Blinken said.

With Pyongyang having tested a long-range ballistic missile this week – in the midst of the Asean meetings – Park said it was important for the three countries to “strengthen our resolve to respond firmly and resolutely, unequivocally, against North Korea’s continuous provocations”.

“I think that watertight coordination among the three countries will be essential to achieve the complete denuclearisation of North Korea,” he said.

Along with the Asean biannual summit of national leaders, the regional forum is among the highlights of the bloc’s year-long meetings.

An Asean-only meeting held earlier in the week was dominated by the internal crisis in Myanmar, where the ruling junta has remained intransigent about implementing a road map to democracy it agreed with Asean two months after staging a coup in February 2021.

Source: South China Morning Post

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