APEC Leaders: Urgent Need to Cooperate Against Terrorism

November 19, 2015 Updated: November 19, 2015
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MANILA, Philippines—Asia-Pacific leaders called Thursday for governments to urgently increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism as they wrapped up annual talks haunted by the Paris attacks.

“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,” the leaders said in a summit declaration.

The statement was a departure from convention for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which normally focuses on trade and business issues.

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

In their declaration, the leaders stressed 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,” they said.

President Barack Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were in the Philippine capital for the summit, as France and Russia were pursuing resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, seeking to unite the international community in combating the Islamic State group.

Reacting to reports of the killing of a Chinese hostage by IS that underscored the threat of terrorism across the globe, Xi called the group the “common enemy of humankind” in comments quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.

IS said in its magazine Wednesday that it had killed former school teacher and self-described “wanderer” Fan Jinghui, 50, and a Norwegian who it was holding for ransom.

The French Interior Ministry and Paris prosecutor’s office said Thursday it remains unclear whether the suspected mastermind of last week’s Paris attacks, which killed 129 people, has been killed or is still at large. A gunbattle Wednesday, as police hunted the man, killed two people. Eight were arrested.

The mission of the 21-member APEC, convened in Manila under extremely tight security, is lowering barriers to trade and economic development. 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 said.

The leaders called for a renewed effort to eliminate poverty, which “continues to be a reality” for millions in their region.

APEC has its detractors, and anti-globalization protesters clashed with police near heavily guarded summit venues, despite rigorous security restrictions that closed major downtown thoroughfares to all but official vehicles.

About 1,000 activists chanted and waved banners in a tussle with hundreds of riot police at security barricades on the fringes of the meetings. Police used water cannons and canes against the crowd, which eventually dispersed.

Over the past two decades, “APEC and imperialist globalization have only benefited the rich countries while further impoverishing developing countries like the Philippines,” said protest leader Renato Reyes, of the left-wing alliance Bayan.

His group was demanding a new economic framework that puts national interests ahead of corporate profits.

Leaders are just weeks away from a deadline to forge an agreement to limit global warming in a meeting that begins Nov. 30 in Paris.

Citing the obstacles to sustainable growth posed by natural disasters, including extreme weather, the leaders agreed to cooperate against climate change.

The leaders’ declaration made no mention of disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors over Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea, though tensions over the issue surfaced on the sidelines of the meeting.

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