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US urges G-20 to press Russia to reopen sea lanes for grain delivery

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Food and energy security will figure prominently in a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in Bali this week and the group’s members should insist Russia support UN efforts to reopen sea lanes blocked by Moscow’s war in Ukraine, a senior US official said on Tuesday (July 5).

Mr Ramin Toloui, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, told reporters Secretary of State Antony Blinken would raise energy security in the main G-20 ministers’ session on Friday and in bilateral meetings in Bali.

“G-20 countries should hold Russia accountable and insist that it support ongoing UN efforts to reopen the sea lanes for grain delivery,” he said, referring to an initiative to try to get Ukrainian and Russian foodstuffs and fertiliser to global markets.

“Whether that happens at the level of the G-20, or the level of individual G-20 countries, that’s an important point that Secretary Blinken will make,” he said.

The top US diplomat for East Asia, Mr Daniel Kritenbrink, told the same briefing he expected a “candid” exchange on Ukraine when Mr Blinken meets China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the G-20 sidelines.

“This will be another opportunity… to convey our expectations about what we would expect China to do and not to do in the context of Ukraine,” he said.

Shortly before Russia’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine, China and Russia announced a “no limits” partnership. But US officials have said they have not seen China evade US-led sanctions on Moscow or provide military equipment to Russia.

China has though refused to condemn Russia’s actions and has criticised the sweeping Western sanctions.

US officials have warned of consequences, including sanctions, should China start offering material support for Russia’s war effort.

Washington calls China its main strategic rival and its concerned it might one day attempt to take over the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan by force, just as Russia attacked Ukraine.

Mr Kritenbrink said it was “absolutely critical” to maintain open lines of communication with America’s Chinese counterparts “to ensure that we prevent any miscalculation that could lead to inadvertently to conflict and confrontation.”

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