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Japan, 4 others walk out of APEC talks to stand against Russia

"We expressed our protest" against Russia's aggression toward Ukraine, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda (right) told reporters. (AFP)
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22 May 2022 12:05:53 GMT9
22 May 2022 12:05:53 GMT9

BANGKOK: Representatives of five countries including Japan and the United States walked out of a trade ministers’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that started in Bangkok on Saturday, in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The trade chiefs from the five countries, also including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, staged the walkout when Russian Economic Development Minister Maksim Reshetnikov made remarks during the first-day discussions of the two-day APEC meeting.

“We expressed our protest” against Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda told reporters.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai was also among those who walked out of Saturday’s talks.

It is now uncertain whether the trade ministers of the 21 APEC member economies will be able to adopt a joint statement, which needs to be unanimously approved, to wrap up their two-day discussions.

At the meeting, the trade ministers are expected to affirm cooperation in restoring the freedom of movement of people within the APEC region so that member countries and regions can achieve an economic recovery following the novel coronavirus pandemic.

They are also likely to underscore the importance of multilateral trade and discuss ways to deal with surging energy prices.

As APEC is a forum designed to deepen economic cooperation among its members, related meetings tend to avoid discussions on political issues, pundits said.

But a Japanese government source said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came up in the first-day talks of APEC trade chiefs.

On the sidelines of the APEC meeting, Hagiuda held bilateral talks with his counterparts from countries including Singapore and Indonesia and exchanged opinions on the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF.

JIJI Press

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