World leaders arrive for APEC under shadow of Ukraine war

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Xi Jinping from China, Fumio Kishida from Japan and Emmanuel Macron from France are among the leaders attending the economic forum.

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World leaders arrived in Thailand for their third summit this week amid geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which kicks off on Friday, is officially meant to promote regional economic integration, but is expected to be dominated by the aftermath of Russia’s war with Ukraine.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are among the leaders who attended the meeting.

A bilateral meeting between Xi and Kishida, whose relationship has been strained over historical and security issues, is among the high-profile talks taking place on the sidelines of the forum.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also confirmed they would hold face-to-face meetings with Xi.

US President Joe Biden, who is attending his granddaughter’s wedding, will not attend and will be represented by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who missed this week’s G20 meeting in Bali, is also not attending and will be represented by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov.

The two-day forum comes one day after the G20 countries unanimously adopted a statement saying that a majority of members condemned the war in Ukraine, while acknowledging that some countries view the conflict differently.

Further divisions became apparent at the Bali summit when Xi was caught on video confronting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over an alleged leak of their private conversations.

Thailand, like G20 host Indonesia, has sought to mitigate differences among the 21 APEC members and highlight the potential for cooperation on common issues.

At an event before the summit, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who is hosting the APEC forum, said the gathering would focus on “new trade and investment narratives” and “the need to reconnect supply chains and travel, and global sustainability.” agenda”.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai on Thursday also expressed concern about the growing “cancellation mentality that permeates every conversation and action” and makes “any compromise impossible.”

“That’s why APEC this year should rise above these issues and instill hope in the world at large that together we can win and prosper,” Don said at a meeting of foreign and trade ministers.

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