APEC divided on wars in Gaza, Ukraine

Published November 19, 2023
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Leaders Retreat during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California, US, November 17, 2023. — Reuters
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Leaders Retreat during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California, US, November 17, 2023. — Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO: Pacific Rim leaders showed divisions over the wars in Ukraine and Gaza after a two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Friday.

Days of meetings involving ministers and leaders were dominated by a summit on Wednesday between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at cooling tensions between the world’s two largest economies, which have alarmed the region.

The 21 APEC members, which include Russia and Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, went into the meetings divided over Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Israeli war on Gaza, and that is how they left. A statement issued by the US echoed last year’s APEC leaders’ declaration in saying that “most” APEC members “strongly condemn aggression against Ukraine.”

It said the leaders exchanged views on the Gaza crisis, with some objecting to language of the chair’s statement in an accompanying “Golden Gate Declaration” covering economic issues “on the basis that they do not believe that APEC is a forum to discuss geopolitical issues.” Some APEC leaders shared the united messages of the Nov. 11 joint Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh, the chair’s statement said.

Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in a joint statement said they were among those who supported the messages of the Riyadh summit, which had called for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel’s justification of its actions against Palestinians as self-defense. The three countries also called for an “immediate, durable and sustained” humanitarian truce, and the unhindered provision of essential goods and services to civilians in Gaza.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2023

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