Global Political Calendar: Russian FM in China, elections in Israel

A number of important events are on the global political calendar for the coming week: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit China; Israel will have its fourth elections in two years; and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers will meet face-to-face for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Russian FM to visit China hard on heels of Alaska talks

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Thursday confirmed that Lavrov will visit China from March 22 to 23 and meet Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Wang together with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, concluded a two-day, face-to-face meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Anchorage, Alaska on Friday, marking the first high-level contact between the two countries since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told Russian news agency Interfax last week that China was willing to maintain regular communication with Russia about its policies toward the U.S.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, Wang will talk with Lavrov on bilateral ties, the recent high-level exchanges as well as international and regional issues of common concern.

In February's phone call, Wang and Lavrov stressed the importance of upholding non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, one of the basic norms governing international relations, and working together to maintain global and regional strategic stability.

Fourth elections in Israel in two years

Israelis will head to the polls on March 23 for the fourth time in two years, aiming to break the political deadlock that has left the country without a national budget amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israel's national legislature Knesset was automatically dissolved in late December 2020 after the parliament failed to meet a deadline to pass the state budget, resulting in a new election.

Latest polls show that neither of the major party blocs can secure a majority but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud has a better chance of forming a government. This also means a fifth election is also likely.

Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but the country's longest-serving leader has still managed to stay in office throughout the investigations and four election campaigns. He denies wrongdoing.

Blinken to attend the NATO FM meeting

U.S. State Department Friday confirmed that Blinken will attend a NATO meeting next week in Brussels.

Blinken will attend a NATO ministerial meeting for talks on concerns over China and Russia, as well as climate change, cyber security, combating terrorism, energy security and other "common challenges," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

The first face-to-face NATO foreign ministers' meeting since the pandemic is scheduled to take place on March 23 to 24.

Speaking at Munich Security Conference last month, Biden said the U.S.'s commitment to NATO is "unshakable" – a major shift from his predecessor Donald Trump who termed the 30-member alliance outdated.

Day by day:

Monday: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits China (to March 23). Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), holds a news conference on the latest developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of foreign ministers' meeting. Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visits India. EU Foreign Affairs Council holds meeting.

Tuesday: The foreign ministers of the NATO member states meet in Brussels (to March 24). Israel holds snap elections. European affairs ministers hold informal video conference.

Wednesday: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visits Athens (to March 25).

Thursday: Mishustin continues his visit to Athens.

Friday: Ghebreyesus holds news conference on the latest developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Bangladesh (to March 27).

Saturday: Modi continues his visit to Bangladesh.

Sunday: Bulgarian National Assembly election.

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