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Protesters Clash With Police as APEC Summit Wraps Up

  • VOA News

 Anti-APEC protesters call for the 21-member Asia-Pacific economic body to be "junked" with word, music and dance. Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2015. (S. Orendain/VOA)

Anti-APEC protesters call for the 21-member Asia-Pacific economic body to be "junked" with word, music and dance. Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2015. (S. Orendain/VOA)

Police used water cannons to disrupt protesters Thursday in Manila, where Asia-Pacific leaders are wrapping up a summit focused on economic issues, territorial disputes and global efforts to combat terrorism.

The protesters, from a left-wing group, were trying to break a police barricade and gain closer access to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which is hosting world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Renato Reyes of the New Patriotic Alliance says the group rejects the "neo-liberal" proposals being raised at the APEC meeting, which is vetting ways to prop up small and medium businesses.

"We've been following that prescription for the last two decades and our country has remained underdeveloped, a lot more people are unemployed, poor, and hungry, so it's not really working," he said.

There were no reports of injuries during the clashes, which occurred about one kilometer from the convention center where the two-day APEC conference ends Thursday.

Leaders condemn terrorism

While the annual APEC summit usually deals mainly with economic issues, the meeting this year was overshadowed by discussions on terrorism following last week's series of gun and bomb attacks in Paris.

"We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism," the draft statement said.

Terrorism became a greater emphasis at the summit following last week's series of gun and bomb attacks in Paris, which were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group and killed 129 people.

Hundreds of Philippine riot police wall-off a road that leads to the main retreat hall, some kilometers away, of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders. Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2015. (S. Orendain/VOA)

Hundreds of Philippine riot police wall-off a road that leads to the main retreat hall, some kilometers away, of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders. Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2015. (S. Orendain/VOA)

Economic and trade

The summit also focused on economic and trade concerns, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which still must be ratified by member nations.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino, who is hosting the summit, said at a session Thursday that economic growth is a priority for the region.

"Growth that creates jobs, sends children to school, puts food on the table, raises standards of living, protects the environment, fosters creativity and innovation, and levels the playing field," Aquino said.

President Barack Obama, left, and Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III, right, walk off of the stage after participating in a news conference in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

President Barack Obama, left, and Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III, right, walk off of the stage after participating in a news conference in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

Maritime disputes

The issue of China's territorial disputes with its neighbors has been another main focus of the summit. Obama has used the gathering to pledge expanded support for nations that have competing claims with Beijing.

"My visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to the freedom of navigation," said Obama Tuesday.

The White House announced a package of up to $259 million in new aid over the course of two years, including $79 million for the Philippines, $40 million for Vietnam, $21 million for Indonesia and $2.5 million for Malaysia.

Obama and many other leaders who were at the APEC summit will travel later this week to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to take part in the annual summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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