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Economic crisis tops agenda of APEC summit

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-16

The financial crisis, nuclear issues and geopolitics will top the agenda at the APEC summit of 21 countries in Peru next weekend. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend before visiting Brazil and Venezuela.

The crisis plunging the world into a recession is to dominate an APEC summit in Peru next weekend, along with efforts to firm up an international response to the turbulence.
The November 21-23 gathering of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will also serve as the swansong multilateral summit for US President George W. Bush, who leaves office in January 2009.
Bush, and 20 other heads of state and government from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, will be attending the high-security event.
Organizers said the leaders -- whose countries account for half the world's trade and nearly 60 percent of its gross domestic product -- will be addressing the economic and financial crisis.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to give a speech on how the crisis has affected APEC's priorities, while the presidents of Mexico and Colombia, Felipe Calderon and Alvaro Uribe, were to examine the implications of the crisis for Latin America and the world.
Chinese President Hu Jintao was to concentrate on his country's quest for sustainable development -- an issue that has taken on greater importance as Chinese growth slides, even as the country becomes the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases.
The three-day summit starts just five days after another international gathering of leaders, the G20 summit in Washington.
That Washington event was exclusively focused on the crisis and underlined the need for reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as improved regulations governing the limping global financial system.
The APEC summit is to be preceded by days of meetings in Lima by ministers and other officials looking to promote trade and other issues in the Asia-Pacific bloc, which stretches from Australasia to Russia.
In all, there will be more than 3,600 delegates from APEC's 21 countries in attendance, Luis Giampietri, the chairman of the APEC Peru High-Level Commission, said in a statement.
The US, Japanese and Chinese contingents will be the biggest, counting 900, 500 and 300 officials, respectively, he said.
"This is a summit that is gathering the most attendants throughout APEC history," Giampietri said.
Javier Kapsoli, the head of the economic and social affairs unit of Peru's economy ministry, said at an APEC finance ministers' meeting early this month that matters related to prices for food and commodities would be addressed, along with proposed reforms of capital markets and improved government spending.
Bilateral meetings and areas of friction among some of APEC's members were also to be closely watched.
Rising tensions between the United States and Russia have prompted alarm and a shifting of geopolitical positions unseen since the end of the Cold War.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was to follow his APEC appearance with a visit to Brazil and to Venezuela. The latter country's president, Hugo Chavez, has been wooing Moscow to become its main military sponsor as he increases his antagonism towards Washington.
The problem of North Korea and its nuclear program was also a potential point of discussion between officials from South Korea, Japan, the United States, Russia and China.
Host country Peru, meanwhile, is under fire from neighbor Bolivia for going it alone in pursuing a free trade agreement with Europe instead of negotiating within a South American bloc, the Community of Andean Nations.
Peru's principal union, the General Workers' Confederation, backed by the main opposition party, has called for a mass protest on Friday to "reject the presence of Bush, who bears responsibility for the financial crisis."
Other leftwing demonstrations are also planned.
Security, though, promises to be extraordinarily tight -- even tighter than at the last APEC summit in Australia, when a fake convoy transporting a team of TV comics, one of whom was dressed up as Osama bin Laden, was waved through police checkpoints to the official venue.
A total of 110,000 police and 90,000 soldiers are to be mobilized across Peru. In the capital, consecutive rings of security will surround the summit venue, delegates' hotels and the defense ministry.

Date created : 2008-11-16