JAKARTA: The leaders of the 18-nation East Asia Summit — including the US, China, Russia and the 10 Asean states — agreed to adopt a statement that omits any mention of the war in Ukraine after a summit on Thursday.
The statement, which is yet to be issued publicly, marks the first time in two years the leaders were able to agree on a text after a dispute over language between the US and Russia prevented them from coming up with one last year in Cambodia.
A statement by East Asian leaders “on Maintaining and Promoting the Region as an Epicentrum of Growth” will be issued, according to a version seen by Bloomberg News. The leaders’ adoption of the statement was confirmed by Indonesia, this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The leaders of the 18-nation bloc agree to “promote peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight, other internationally lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce”, according to the draft.
The East Asia Summit in Jakarta was attended by US Vice President Kamala Harris and Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s visit to India for a Group of 20 gathering.
The US and Russia failed to agree on a joint statement last year at the summit in Cambodia, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blaming Washington and its allies for insisting on language with regard to Ukraine that he said was unacceptable.
Russia continues to refuse describing its invasion of Ukraine as a war, instead calling it a “special military operation”.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has undermined the multilateral system,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the East Asia Summit on Thursday in Jakarta, according to a transcript of his remarks. “It has violated international law and vital principles enshrined in the UN Charter.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also the Asean chair, meanwhile urged the leaders to strengthen cooperation and dialogue and not to stoke divisions.
“All of us sitting in this room have an equal responsibility to create peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” he said. “We have the same responsibility not to create new conflicts, not to create new tensions, new wars.”