Apec leaders call for solidarity against terror

Published: Thursday 19th November 2015 by The News Editor

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Asia-Pacific leaders have called for more international co-operation in the fight against terror as they hold annual talks overshadowed by the Paris attacks.

A copy of the declaration that the leaders will issue following their talks, seen by the Associated Press news agency, strongly condemns “all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism”.

The statement on terrorism, which also mentions attacks in Beirut and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Sinai, is a rare departure from convention for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum which normally focuses on trade and business issues.

The Apec bloc accounts for about 60% of the global economy. It groups the United States and China with middle powers such as Australia as well as developing nations in Asia and South America.

The leaders said they were stressing the “urgent need for increased international co-operation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism”.

“We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies,” the statement said.

The mission of the 21-member Apec, convened in the Philippine capital of Manila under extremely tight security, is lowering barriers to trade and economic development. But the declaration noted the vital link between lack of economic opportunity and terrorism.

“Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalisation,” it said.

Apec has its detractors though, and anti-globalisation protesters clashed with police near heavily-guarded summit venues.

Activists were chanting and waving banners as they confronted hundreds of riot police at security barricades on the fringes of Apec venues. About 1,000 people clashed with police who used water cannons and canes to try and disperse the crowd.

Protest leader Renato Reyes of the left-wing alliance Bayan said the group was demanding a new economic framework that puts national interest ahead of corporate profits.

Over the past two decades “Apec and imperialist globalisation have only benefited the rich countries while further impoverishing developing countries like the Philippines,” he said.

Apart from uniting against the attacks in Paris and the deepening crisis in Syria, the leaders are also seeking to promote co-operation against climate change. Disputes between China and its south-east Asian neighbours about Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea also drew attention.

US president Barack Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe are in Manila for the Pacific Rim summit as fellow United Nations Security Council members France and Russia were pursuing resolutions seeking to unite the international community in combating the Islamic State group.

The hunt by French police for the mastermind of last week’s attacks led to a gun battle in a Paris suburb yesterday. Two people were killed and eight arrested.

The first of two Apec summit retreats began with the leaders posing for a “family photo” – one of several traditions of the annual gatherings that rotate from one member to the next.

The 2016 summit is planned for Peru, 2017 will be in Vietnam and Papua New Guinea will host the 2018 summit.

Along with concerns over the rising threat of terrorism, leaders are just weeks away from a deadline to forge an agreement to limit global warming in a meeting that begins on November 30 in Paris.

In Manila, Mr Obama sought to build momentum for the pact, reasoning that bold climate action will be a boon for businesses in Asia and around the world.

Mr Xi, whose nation is now the largest overall emitter of the pollutants that contribute to global warming, said China was committed to cleaning up its environment.

All the events at the summit are tightly scripted and security has been extremely heavy. Thousands of police and troops are deployed in Manila and major routes are closed to all but official vehicles.

Published: Thursday 19th November 2015 by The News Editor

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