Neither Ardern nor the White House identified which APEC member was blocking the U.S. bid to host the meeting, but two former U.S. officials said indications point to Russia as the likely suspect.
“The word on the street is that Russia is blocking consensus unless the U.S. lifts restrictions on travel to the U.S. on sanctioned Russians,” said one former official, who asked not to be identified.
A spokesperson at the Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has extensive sanctions on Russia, stemming from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny, human rights abuses and other concerns. Those include restrictions on travel.
“APEC hosting requires the consensus of all 21 economies, and we thank members for their strong support so far,” a White House spokesperson said, adding that one economy has “not yet joined…