PM Albanese meets Ukrainian Foreign Minister in Cambodia, hopeful about China meeting
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has arrived in Cambodia ahead of the East Asia Summit and other international meetings he will attend over the next week.
Mr. Albanese is in Phnom Penh for the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN-Australia Summit, then heads to Bali for the G20 Summit before he flew to Bangkok, Thailand, for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit.
During his trip to Phnom Penh, Mr. Albanese tweeted that Australia had failed to live up to its commitments to its neighbours on issues such as climate change at upcoming summits, but pledged to improve the nation's position on such issues.
“Nearly a decade ago, Australia was missing out on a good partner for our neighbours and a strong leader in the world. Our inability to move forward on issues like climate change means Australia is left behind,” he wrote.
“Australians are innovative and resilient and we are already working – as a government and as a nation – to bring about change. But we cannot tackle global challenges alone.”
The prime minister added that he was committed to ensuring that Australia "returns to the negotiating table" on international issues including climate change.
He met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia summit, where he thanked Albanese for Australia's support and assistance, praising the role played by Australian armoured personnel carriers.
"Bushmasters has become the most popular Australian brand in Ukraine, and I believe it has become a symbol of your political, economic and military support," Kuleba told Mr. Albanese.
“I myself have watched videos from both eastern and southern Ukraine, as Ukrainian soldiers advance in Bushmasters and liberate Ukrainian lands, rescuing civilians in occupied lands from Russian brutality.
"We will surely win. When victory comes, it will be our common success."
Albanese said the conflict was high on the minds of many.
“I am sure that there will be no one in Ukraine - and in fact in the Australian diaspora - there will not be anyone who has not been personally and very directly affected by Russia's illegal aggression against Ukraine," he said.
"Rest assured of Australia's continued support and admiration for your struggle."
Kuleba said he had discussed the energy crisis in Ukraine with Mr. Albanese and asked for help.
Russian military strikes have targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure, raising deep concerns about how Ukrainians will deal with the long winter.
"He assured me that Australia would continue to support Ukraine in practice," said Mr. Kuleba.
"He took our list of energy needs.
He promised that he would immediately direct the appropriate members of his cabinet to look into the matter as it was a very private technical matter.
Mr. Albanese also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is hosting the ASEAN and East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.
He committed Australia to support ASEAN and South-East Asian countries, and appointed former Macquarie Bank president Nicholas Moore as special envoy for the region.
Heads of government from other SE Asian countries are scheduled to hold talks with visiting world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, as the region tries to overcome the growing rivalry between China and Western powers.
Mr. Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Mr. Albanese are among the leaders who will hold separate talks with the bloc.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Yoon Sok-yeol met with ASEAN leaders on Friday.
Mr. Yun called for more co-operation with China and Japan, including a leadership summit to discuss security and climate change.
He also said that North Korea's provocations and attempts to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities pose a serious threat to the international community.
The crisis in Myanmar has cast a long shadow over the ASEAN summit, with the member state being excluded from meetings since the military coup in February last year.
Australia faced international pressure to impose sanctions on the junta, but it did not go beyond saying that the sanctions were "under active consideration".
The imprisonment of Australian economist Sean Tornell, a former adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, is regularly cited as a reason for Australia's reluctance.
The Prime Minister denied that his country had left the step.
"We have taken a range of measures against Myanmar in the national interest of Australia," said Mr. Albanese.
"And we also raised, at this summit, the case of Sean Tornell."
The region's leaders are participating in a series of summits over the next seven days, with tough discussions expected on topics including the war in Ukraine, climate change and tensions over the South China Sea.
PM Albanese said he still hopes to meet with President Xi Jinping while attending the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) (ASEAN) and G20 Summit.
Mr. Albanese does not officially appear on the Chinese government's bilateral schedule, and the question of whether he would meet with Mr. Xi during his trip to Cambodia has arisen.
Responding to a reporter's question about the possibility of him meeting with the Chinese president, Albanese replied: "I think there is a great deal of goodwill here, certainly from Australia, and I have no reason to believe there is no goodwill from the Chinese side either."
The prime minister confirmed that although there is no set agenda for his meeting with Mr. Xi, he will address the issue of lifting trade barriers that currently cost exporters nearly $20 billion annually.
Mr. Albanese welcomed the news that Mr. Xi will certainly meet with US President Joe Biden on Monday, amid an escalating rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region.
"I made a point about President Biden and President Xi meeting. This dialogue between people is always positive," he said.
"From dialogue comes understanding and we need more, not less in today's turbulent world. We know that there is strategic competition in this region."
Albanese said there was "no doubt" he would meet with Biden several times over the coming days, given the enduring strength of Australia's relationship with the United States.
While the focus mostly lies on meeting with China, Clennell made it clear that the importance of engagement with ASEAN countries cannot be underestimated as reflected in Sunday's agenda.