Leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation economies began their annual two-day summit in Australia's largest city, Sydney, amid tight security and protests. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins is in Sydney and brings us this report.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Sydney Saturday at the start of the two day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Security was tight as thousands marched peacefully along an approved route to voice their disapproval over the APEC summit, U.S. president George Bush, the Iraq war, and a host of other issues.

APEC leaders are expected to sign a landmark climate statement that glosses over differences between rich and poor nations over pollution
emission targets.

Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says participants approved the decision to make climate change a key focus of the summit.                         

"Ministers have welcomed the decision to make climate change a key focus for the leader's discussion," he said.                          

The climate change statement is expected to be signed before U.S. President Bush heads back to Washington.