The Fiji TimesBlinken to carry talks with Central Asian nations in wake of Ukraine anniversary

By Simon Lewis

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Central Asia Tuesday the place he’ll go to and meet with officers from all 5 former Soviet republics following the primary anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken’s go to to the capitals of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is his first to the area because the Biden administration’s high diplomat.

The journey comes simply days after the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, which has examined Moscow’s affect in a area that additionally consists of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Leaders within the area have been emboldened to face as much as Russia by their new-found leverage as Moascow appears to be like to their markets and commerce routes in a bid to avoid Western sanctions.

In Astana, Blinken will with meet with the 5 nations’ international ministers individually and as a gaggle, in what officers say is an effort to set out the advantages of U.S. cooperation to a area dealing with financial fallout from the battle to the west.

“Our major purpose is to point out that the USA is a dependable companion, and we see the difficulties that these economies are dealing with – excessive meals costs, excessive gasoline costs, excessive unemployment, problem in exporting their items, sluggish post-COVID restoration, and a big inflow of migrants from Russia,” Donald Lu, the State Division’s high official for South and Central Asia, instructed reporters forward of the journey.

Blinken can even meet Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who was re-elected in a landslide in November and has pushed again publicly in opposition to territorial claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Russia and Kazakhstan share the world’s longest steady land border, prompting concern amongst some Kazakhs concerning the safety of a rustic with the second-biggest ethnic Russian inhabitants amongst ex-Soviet republics after Ukraine.

Blinken will journey to Uzbekistan in a while Tuesday to satisfy with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Enhancing by Michael Perry)

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