APEC Leaders Meet in Russia

Posted September 8th, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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Leaders representing 21 Asia-Pacific economies, meeting in the eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok, are discussing how to enhance global growth by tearing down barriers to trade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, where bilateral meetings on the sidelines are nearly as important as group events.

Putin is using the summit to promote Russia's ambitions to enhance its transport infrastructure across the two continents it straddles, bolstering exports to east Asia as demand in Europe wanes.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced Saturday that his country also plans to boost its infrastructure, spending more than $150 billion on roads, railroads, and energy projects. He said enhancing his country's transport networks will enable China to import an extra $10 trillion worth of foreign goods in the next three years. Mr. Hu said strengthening infrastructure development is key to achieving economic growth.

On the sidelines, officials from Japan and Gazprom, Russia's gas giant, signed a preliminary agreement on construction near Vladivostock of a $13 billion natural gas plant and shipping port.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency says South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with China's President Hu to express sympathy for a pair of earthquakes that hit southwest China earlier this week.

And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed a pact to enhance U.S. – Russia scientific cooperation in the Antarctic.

Clinton is attending the APEC summit in place of President Barack Obama, so Mr. Obama could attend the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina and campaign for reelection. While in Russia, Clinton is also expected to meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss how to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where government forces are fighting an 18-month battle against rebels.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard left the summit early after learning her father had died.

The 21-member APEC forum accounts for 40 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of economic output and 44 percent of trade.