[PHOTO -President Benigno Aquino welcomes Chile President
Sebastian Piñera during the bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 20th APEC
Leaders' Summit in Vladivostok, Russia on Saturday.ñang Photo]
leaders on Saturday called for unity in tackling a raft of economic challenges,
as the summit began here amid deep divisions over worsening territorial disputes
and other rows.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (Apec) forum and leaders' summit, opened the two-day gathering with
a call for a renewed joint commitment to open up regional trade.
"By getting together and lifting barriers, we encourage dynamic development
of the entire Asia-Pacific region and the global economy in general. It is
important to build bridges, not walls," Putin told his fellow leaders.

[PHOTO- President Aquino at APEC Summit in Russia]
The 21 members of Apec, which accounts for nearly half of world trade, meet
every year to build goodwill in their effort to break down trade barriers, with
the bloc's rules decided by consensus.
But this year's summit began with Apec giants China, Japan and South Korea
embroiled in various territorial disputes that have fanned intense nationalist
flames, and with US-China relations also heating up over the West Philippine
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would not hold customary
bilateral summit talks with China's President Hu Jintao nor South Korea's Lee
Myung-Bak because of Japan's separate territorial disputes with their nations.

Besides the Philippines, Apec member Vietnam has also spoken out strongly
against China in the lead-up to the summit.
The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of a campaign of intimidation
to enforce its claims to virtually all of the West Philippine Sea, parts of
which they contest.
Speaking at a presummit business forum earlier Saturday, Hu called for all
countries to ensure the tensions did not escalate into more serious conflicts.

"To maintain peace and stability as well as sound momentum of economic growth
in the Asia Pacific is in the interest of all countries in the region. It is our
shared responsibility," Hu said, while also warning against protectionism.
Trade barriers
Philippine economic officials went into the forum worried that more countries
would put up more barriers to trade as world economic growth cools down.
"There were statements during the ministerial discussions that there's
increasing protectionism," Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory
Domingo told a news conference on Saturday. "So the ministers said that this is
something that member states should really try to avoid doing."
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the Philippines and
other Apec members wanted to make sure their partners would not take a
protectionist stand in the wake of the euro crisis and the slowdown in big
economies like China.
"We are espousing the position that we need to solve the problems that are
facing our domestic economies in a way that we will not curtail the expansion of
trade," Balisacan said.
In a joint statement issued after their two-day meeting, the Apec trade
ministers said: "We noted with concern the International Monetary Fund's
downward projection for global growth for this and next year and the rise in
protectionist instances around the world. These developments increase the
urgency of further action to keep markets down."

[PHOTO -The Russian city of Vladivostok has undergone a $20
billion makeover to host the APEC summit as Russia looks to flex its muscles in
Asian market]
US interests
The United States has riled China by calling for a code of conduct for the
West Philippine Sea and insisting on freedom of navigation in the strategic
waterway. China has also perceived a greater US focus on Asia as an effort to
contain it.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing in for US President Barack
Obama, said Thursday on a presummit swing through the region that Washington was
not going to shy away from standing up for American strategic interests.
She emphasized at a business forum on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday
that the United States was determined to increase its economic and political
footprint in the region.
"After an extended period in which the United States had to focus a great
deal of attention and resources on regions and conflicts elsewhere, we are now
making substantially increased investments in the Asia Pacific," she said.
"We seek to work with others to build a stable and just regional order that
will benefit everyone," she said.
Apec leaders have insisted they will still make progress in Vladivostok in
opening up economies.
Leaders' statement
They will jointly call for greater efforts to "support growth and foster
financial stability and restore confidence," according to a draft of a leaders'
statement to be released at the end of the summit and obtained by AFP.
It warns of mounting risks to the region from eurozone crisis in Europe and
pledges to work to stoke domestic demand to counter falling exports.
The assembled leaders are also expected to approve a deal reached on Thursday
by their trade ministers to cut tariffs on a list of dozens of "green" products
in the Asia-Pacific region to boost trade in the goods and help protect the
environment. Reports from Gil Cabacungan and AFP
Clinton faced with new rifts at Asia summit Agence
France-Presse 12:06 am | Saturday, September 8, 2012

VLADIVOSTOK—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived late Friday for an
Asia-Pacific summit seeking progress in the tense West Philippine Sea (South
China Sea), but with concerns about frayed ties between Japan and South Korea.

Clinton, filling in for President Barack Obama as he enters the home stretch
of his re-election campaign, will also discuss easing the diplomatic stalemate
over Syria's bloodshed during talks with host nation Russia.
US officials said Clinton planned to meet at the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation summit in Vladivostok with the leaders of Japan and South Korea — US
allies whose relations have dramatically soured in recent weeks.
The two leaders, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean
President Lee Myung-Bak, do not plan to meet each other during the summit as
nationalist passions flare over islands disputed between the two nations.
The Obama administration, which has put a renewed focus on Asia, had hoped
that Japan and South Korea would overcome deep historical animosity to work
together on shared issues such as China's rise and nuclear-armed North Korea.

But a senior US official travelling with Clinton did not predict a
breakthrough between the two countries in Vladivostok.
"This is a matter for Japan and South Korea. We encourage dialogue in each of
our bilateral interactions with them," the official said on Clinton's plane
under customary condition of anonymity.
"We've underscored that the positive relationship between Japan and South
Korea is in the strategic best interest of the United States and we will
continue to do so," the official said.
Just a few months ago, Japan and South Korea were on the verge of signing a
landmark intelligence-sharing pact. But Lee, long seen as a top ally of Obama,
faced a backlash at home and made an unprecedented trip to islands known as
Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

[PHOTO -at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Summit in Vladivostok]
The issue flared up as the United States was putting more diplomatic energy
into separate disputes in the West Philippine Sea, where Vietnam and the
Philippines have accused Beijing of a campaign of intimidation to exert its own
In Vladivostok, Clinton plans to meet with the leaders of Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, underscoring her interest in the West
Philippine Sea, after stops this week in China, Indonesia and Brunei.
Clinton, who has become the first US secretary of state to visit all 10
members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is hoping that the bloc
and China will agree to a code of conduct to manage maritime disputes.
On relations with China Clinton told reporters Thursday that the United
States and "certainly I, am not going to shy away from standing up for our
strategic interests, and in expressing clearly where we differ".
"The mark of a mature relationship — whether it's between nations or between
people — is not whether we agree on everything, because that is highly unlikely
between nations and people, but whether we can work through the issues that are
difficult," she added.
Clinton plans to meet Saturday morning with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov for talks expected to focus on deep disagreements between the two nations
on the bloodshed in Syria.
Russia is the main diplomatic and military supporter of President Bashar
al-Assad, who has led a clampdown that activists say has killed more than 26,000
people, and has vetoed with China two UN draft resolutions on Syria.
Russia said that President Vladimir Putin will meet only briefly with Clinton
as she is not a head of state.
Putin skipped a Group of Eight summit in the United States in apparent anger
over Obama not taking time out of his re-election campaign to make the trip to
the Russian far east.
A US official was unfussed about Putin's plans with Clinton, saying: "I think
this is exactly what the two sides had planned and what we expected given that
she's sitting in for the president."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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