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G20 Meeting Begins: Ukraine-Russia war, China-Taiwan Issue Take CentreStage

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Ministers from the Group of 20 are meeting in Bali today. This is the first time since the Ukrainian war that Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats attending the same talks. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bali and are expected to hold day long talks with their counterparts from the world’s top economies.

The meeting is expected to be tense despite Blinken and Lavrov not meeting directly. According to News 18, Blinken will shun a direct meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, instead pointing the finger at Moscow for triggering global food and energy crises and calling on G20 members to back a UN initiative to re-open sea lanes blocked by the war.

“You’ll see that we will have an ability as necessary to make clear Russia’s responsibility for some of the very problems that the G20 is going to be tackling,” a senior US official said Thursday.

Blinken is also expected to resume talks with China’s Wang Yi. This meeting will be the first between then since relations became strained over multiple issues including Taiwan. A top US official for East Asia said the pair would discuss “guardrails” on competition but said Blinken — who recently identified Beijing as the main threat to world order — would also explore areas of cooperation.

Tensions have been simmering over Taiwan which China has vowed to reclaim. US has insisted it will defend the island if it is attacked by China.

The meeting is a precursor to the leaders’ summit which will be held on the Indonesian resort island in November and will aim to focus on the global recovery which has taken a massive hit since the Covid Pandemic swept the world.

The attention has shifted after the Ukraine invasion by Russia which has hurt global markets and increased food prices. There are also allegations of Russians committing war crimes in Ukraine.

Blinken and Lavrov will be facing off for the first since the invasion of Ukraine. Both last met in Geneva where Blinken warned Russia of retaliatory consequences if it went ahead with its invasion of Ukraine (Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24).

News 18 reported that hosts Indonesia has resisted pressure to uninvite Russia, inviting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymytro Kuleba virtually as a compromise, but the threat of a boycott has loomed over proceedings.

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