NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Chinese leader Xi Jinping will arrive on the Indonesian island of Bali on Monday for a long-awaited meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of the tension-laden Group of 20 (G20) summit on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The two leaders are expected to discuss Taiwan, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, many of the same issues that loom over the G20 which opens Tuesday in the absence of the president. Russian Vladimir Putin.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent the Russian president at the G20 summit – the first since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – after the Kremlin said Putin was too busy to attend.
On the eve of his meeting with Xi, Biden told Asian leaders in Cambodia that US lines of communication with China would remain open to prevent conflict, with tough talks almost certain in the days to come.
The United States would “compete vigorously” in Beijing while “ensuring that competition does not escalate into conflict,” Biden said, stressing the importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait during a speech at the Summit. East Asia to Cambodia. He arrived in Bali on Sunday evening.
Superpower relations have sunk to their lowest level in decades, marred by rising tensions in recent years over a host of issues ranging from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the South China Sea, coercive trade practices and US restrictions on Chinese technology.
Tensions rose further after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled in August to Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island that Beijing claims as its territory. This visit enraged China, which then launched military exercises near Taiwan.
Biden said in September that US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement on the issue to date, prompting another angry response from Beijing.
Biden and Xi, who have held five phone or video calls since Biden became president in January 2021, last met in person during the Obama administration when Biden was vice president.
Monday’s meeting is unlikely to produce a joint statement, the White House said, but it could help stabilize the relationship.
The two leaders will attend the opening of the G20 summit in Bali on Tuesday.
Lavrov said on Sunday that the West was “militarizing” Southeast Asia in a bid to contain Russian and Chinese interests, paving the way for a new confrontation with Western leaders at the G20.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to meet Lavrov at the summit, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement. He is also expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Biden.
The G20 bloc, which includes a wide range of countries from Brazil to India and Germany, accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 60% of its population.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is to join Indonesian President Joko Widodo in speaking at a parallel B20 business forum to be held on Monday ahead of the G20 summit. Billionaire Elon Musk is expected to join one of the sessions virtually.
Reporting by Nandita Bose and Francisca Nangoy in Nusa Dua; Written by Kay Johnson; Editing by Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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