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Thursday, November 19, 2015, 17:24

APEC leaders seek to unite against terror

By Agencies

APEC leaders seek to unite against terror
Leaders pose for a group family photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines, Nov 19, 2015. (AP Photo / Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of Pacific rim countries vowed on Thursday to prevent terrorism from undermining values that underpin free and open economies, and said there was a need for increased international cooperation to fight the scourge.

"Under the shadow cast by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against Russian aircraft over the Sinai, and elsewhere, we strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism in all their forms and manifestations," they said in a declaration after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila.

China's President Xi Jinping, President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are in Manila for the Pacific Rim summit as fellow UN Security Council members France and Russia were pursuing resolutions seeking to unite the international community in combating the Islamic State group.

A copy of the declaration that the leaders issued strongly condemned "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 Cooperation forum which normally focuses on trade and business issues.

The APEC bloc accounts for about 60 percent 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 are stressing the "urgent need for increased international cooperation 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 reads.

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 radicalization," it reads.

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

Activists were chanting and waving banners as they faced off against 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.

Apart from uniting against the attacks in Paris and the deepening crisis in Syria, the leaders are also seeking to promote cooperation against climate change.

On Wednesday, the hunt by French police for the mastermind of last week's attacks led to a gunbattle in a Paris suburb. Two people were killed and eight arrested.

The first of two APEC summit retreats began Thursday 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.

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