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APEC Ends With Urgent Message on Trade

Leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are heading home after a summit in Australia. The United States, China and Russia, and many Asian and South American economies, called for fresh efforts to save the Doha Round of trade talks, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

APEC began life almost 20 years ago to promote free trade through the economies of the Pacific Rim.

Predictably, leaders attending the latest summit called for urgent action to revive the stalled Doha Round of world trade talks, and discussed the setting up of a regional trade bloc.

One of APEC's architects in the late 1980s, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, says this year's summit has been a great success.

"The Putins and the Bushes of this world and the Hu Jintaos don't come unless they see significance in the opportunities provided by such a meeting," Mr. Hawke said. "To have these leaders here, talking with our leaders, talking with one another, this doesn't come easily and it's something we should be proud of."

On the sidelines, China signed a multi-billion dollar liquid gas deal with hosts Australia, while Russia agreed to buy Australian uranium.

Inside the meeting halls, the environment was a key issue.

Leaders signed the 'Sydney Declaration' on climate change. It sets long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gases, that some scientists believe are helping to warm the earth.

There are no mandatory targets. APEC's climate change goals are non-binding.

APEC includes six of the world's 10 largest carbon emitters and accounts for well over half of global energy consumption.

Supporters of the Sydney agreement have insisted it will help the United Nations construct a framework to combat global warming when the Kyoto
Protocol on climate change expires in 2012.

Critics though believe the Sydney Declaration is worthless and have insisted that 'vague goals' won't achieve the necessary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Sydney residents are recovering from the tightest security operation in Australian history. Many had criticized the heavy security measures.

Dozens of noisy protests were held by a broad coalition of groups; from climate change campaigners to those opposed to the war in Iraq.

Despite accusations that Australian police were heavy-handed, senior officers said their 'no-nonsense' approach kept Sydney safe for APEC.