Sweden confirms Indo-Pacific ministerial meeting on May 13
EU diplomats have said they don’t expect China to be invited.
Amid China’s efforts to shore up ties with the broader Asian region, the EU’s second Indo-Pacific ministerial forum will take place on May 13 in Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said Thursday.
“It is important for the EU to have strong political relationships in the Indo-Pacific,” he told POLITICO. “[This] will give us an opportunity to sit down and really have a discussion of a joint agenda of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Last year in Paris, China wasn’t invited to the forum of foreign ministers — though other regional heavyweights such as Japan, India and South Korea were on the guest list. EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, previously said they didn’t expect China to be invited this year.
"We definitely should have a dialogue with countries who are willing to have a dialogue … When you look at China, it is an open question, given all we know about the connections between Russia and China," Billström said.
The Swedish foreign minister did not confirm how many ministers from the Indo-Pacific would participate in the forum, but that "many large countries" have said yes to participate.
The meeting will be an opportunity to have a joint conversation on areas such as “free trade, the green transition, digital connectivity as well as security and defense," Billström added.
“The futures of the Indo-Pacific region and the EU are joined through economic interdependence, and also common global challenges. For example, together, we account for around 70 percent — seven zero percent — of global trade,” he said.