August 13
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will call on G20 nations this week to put pressure on Russia to support U.N. efforts to reopen sea lanes blocked by the Ukraine conflict and repeat warnings to China not to support Moscow's war effort, Reuters reported.

Blinken heads to Asia on Wednesday for a meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Bali on Friday. His trip will include his first meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi since October, but no meeting is expected with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said now is not the right time for another meeting. "We would like to see the Russians be serious about diplomacy. We have not seen that yet," he said.

Analysts foresee a contentious G20 ministerial in which Washington and its allies blame Moscow for global food shortages since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, a major grain exporter, while Russia, also a major exporter, blames U.S.-led sanctions.

Ramin Toloui, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, told reporters Blinken would raise energy security and a U.N. initiative to try to get Ukrainian and Russian foodstuffs and fertilizer back to global markets.

"G20 countries should hold Russia accountable and insist that it support ongoing U.N. efforts to reopen the sea lanes for grain delivery," he said. "Whether that happens at the level of the G20, or the level of individual G20 countries, that's an important point that Secretary Blinken will make," he said.

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, said he expected a "candid" exchange on Ukraine in Blinken's talks with China's Wang, which are expected on Saturday.

"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.

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

Despite the all-round strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, the world's two largest economies remain major trading partners. President Joe Biden has been considering scrapping tariffs on a range of Chinese goods to curb surging U.S. inflation before the November midterm elections, with the control of Congress in focus.

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