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7 Nov, 2023 12:18

US invites Russians to San Francisco summit

The State Department said it would be “surprised” if Vladimir Putin were to personally attend the APEC event
US invites Russians to San Francisco summit

The US has sent a formal invitation to Russia to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. Twenty other members are due to take part in meetings slated to kick off on Saturday.

However, Washington does not expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to represent his nation at the event.

Details of the week-long gathering were discussed by the senior American official for APEC, Matt Murray, during a press conference on Monday. He stressed that as the host of the summit, the US was looking forward to welcoming foreign delegations, provided that its sanctions are observed.

“We’ve been very consistent [and] clear that participating in APEC will be in accordance with US laws and regulations, and we have been working towards appropriate participation of all APEC member economies,” he told journalists.

The sanctions issue came up specifically regarding two member economies, Hong Kong and Russia. The autonomous Chinese territory announced last Tuesday that it would be sending Financial Secretary Paul Chan to the event, rather than Chief Executive John Lee, who is sanctioned by the US.

Lee was penalized in 2020, after Beijing cracked down on mass protests and rioting in the city, which Washington characterized as an attack on the democratic aspirations of Hong Kongers. Beijing at the time accused Washington of inciting the disturbances.

Putin’s hypothetical arrival in San Francisco was virtually ruled out by the US Department of State. Spokesman Matthew Miller said last month he would be “highly surprised” if the Russian leader chose to come.

The US official claimed that Putin was “reluctant to leave his own borders recently” out of fear of arrest for alleged war crimes. Putin visited Kyrgyzstan and China in October.

The arrest threat mentioned by Miller was apparently posed by the International Criminal Court, which charged the Russian president in March with mass abductions of Ukrainian children. Moscow has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated and unsubstantiated.

Washington has sought to isolate Moscow diplomatically over the Ukraine conflict, including by boycotting Russian delegations at international events. According to the Russian government, the campaign has been a failure, as non-Western nations have refused to toe the US line and maintained bilateral relations with Russia.

The US has said that inviting Russia to San Francisco was about being “good stewards” to APEC.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov represented Russia at the APEC leaders summit in Thailand last November.