WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is heading to Asia and Africa, the State Department said Friday, as the United States and rivals China and Russia intensify their struggle for global influence amid escalating tensions over Russia’s war in Taiwan and Ukraine.
Blinken will embark on a five-nation tour on two continents next week, starting in Cambodia, where he will attend the Southeast Asia Regional Security Forum, which will also be attended by the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers. Blinken will then visit the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
There was no immediate indication that Blinken would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi separately in Phnom Penh. However, B Lincoln said on Wednesday that he had requested a phone call with Lavrov To discuss issues related to the release of American prisoners in Russia and Ukraine.
Such a conversation would end months of diplomatic spat between the two men, who last spoke in February before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov said on Friday that he was ready to talk to Blinken, but that it had not yet been arranged.
Blinken last met with Wang earlier this month at a meeting of foreign ministers from the G-20 group of wealthy and large developing nations in Bali, Indonesia. But their gathering at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum in Cambodia was the first chance for President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping to see each other since they held a more than two-hour phone call. On Thursday.
Russia, Ukraine trade blame for deadly attack on POW prison
The Russians are accused of using US groups to spread propaganda
Khashoggi’s assassination in the midst of a Saudi prince’s visit to France
Russian space chief: No date yet for space station pullout
The regional forum will be the last major gathering of international foreign ministers before leaders’ meetings scheduled for this fall, starting with the annual UN General Assembly in late September and three summits in Asia in early November: the G-20 in Indonesia, the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, along with growing Western tensions with China, especially between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, are expected to dominate all of these meetings. China expressed anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.