Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rain on Santiago Apec 2004 under the water-canon and tear gas!

Chilean anti-riot forces fired water cannon and tear gas
at stone-throwing protesters in central Santiago
overnight as world leaders flew in for a major
Asia-Pacific summit.

The mayhem in the capital provided a violent backdrop to
the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit,
where President George W Bush's "war on terror" and
nuclear proliferation appeared set to eclipse trade and
the economy. Bush arrived in Santiago Friday evening
making his first international trip since winning a
second term of office on November 2.

Throughout the day, thousands of anti-Bush and
anti-globalization protesters took to the streets of the
city, at times clashing with police who used tear gas
and water cannons to control the crowds.

More protests are expected as APEC meetings get under
way Saturday, although demonstrators are being kept far
from the summit site.

Chilean authorities have launched a massive security
operation, with special guard forces and police on
horseback throughout the city.

While in Chile, Bush will meet the leaders of China,
Japan, South Korea and Russia, which, along with the
United States, have been involved in six-party talks
with North Korea about its nuclear program.

North Korea has walked away from those talks, but South
Korean officials have expressed optimism that North
Korea may return to the negotiating table, now that the
U.S. presidential election is over.

While the top White House goal is to come out of the
summit showing a united front against North Korea, its
negotiating partners are also expected to push Bush to
offer security and other incentives to move along the

Bush's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin may
also prove particularly noteworthy, given Putin's
comments earlier this week that Russia is developing a
new type of nuclear weapon.

That development, along with Putin's efforts at home to
consolidate power, has left some critics calling for
Bush to take a tougher line against a man with whom the
U.S. leader enjoys a warm personal relationship.

"The Bush administration is going to have to take the
gloves off a little bit and be a little bit more head-on
about where President Putin is leading his country,"
said Wendy Sherman, a former State Department counselor.

The APEC summit, which includes leaders of 21 countries,
is designed to foster economic cooperation, although
security issues have loomed large in the past two years.

This year's event comes at a time when South American
countries are increasingly looking toward Asia for
economic opportunities, with China quickly closing in on
the United States as the region's major trading partner.

Staunch supporters of free trade complain that the
United States has been ignoring South America since the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil and Argentina
before arriving in Santiago, where he will also discuss
a free trade agreement with Chile, the world's leading
copper producer.

Other economic issues likely to arise at this year's
summit include rising world oil prices, the weak dollar
and U.S. budget deficits, all of which could impact
international trade.

Junichiro Koizumi, embarked on a fight of words with
China on the issue of a war sanctuary devoted to war
deads including war criminals in Tokyo, plans to meet Hu
on Sunday.

APEC's 21 members, in alphabetical order, are:

Australia; Brunei; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong;
Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea (South Korea);
Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru;
Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Taipei; Thailand; the
United States; Vietnam.

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