Trade chiefs from the US and others walk out of Apec talks over Russia's Ukraine invasion

The walkout was 'an expression of disapproval at Russia's war in Ukraine and its economic impact in the Apec region'

US trade representative Katherine Tai, seen during an interview in Bangkok where the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting is being held, was among the diplomats who walked out in protest of Russia's military action in Ukraine. AP
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Representatives of the US and several other nations walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok on Saturday to protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

The walkout was "an expression of disapproval at Russia's illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the Apec region", one diplomat said.

Representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia joined the Americans, led by trade representative Katherine Tai, in walking out of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting, two Thai officials and two international diplomats told Reuters.

Russia began a military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, saying it aimed to demilitarise and "denazify" its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives, sent millions of Ukrainians fleeing and caused economic fallout around the world.

Another diplomat said the five countries that staged the protest wanted "stronger language on Russia's war" in the group's final statement to be issued on Sunday.

"The meeting will not be a failure if [a joint statement] cannot be issued," Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters, adding that the meeting was "progressing well" despite the walk out.

The walkout took place while Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was delivering remarks at the opening of the two-day meeting from the group of 21 economies.

The delegations from five countries that staged the protest returned to the meeting after Reshetnikov finished speaking, a Thai official said.

Updated: May 21, 2022, 11:05 AM