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APEC summit opens

October 7, 2013

Leaders from Asia-Pacific nations and territories have gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali to attend the APEC summit . Notable by his absence is US President Barack Obama.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers his speech during the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Nusa Dua, Indonesia resort island of Bali October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Image: Reuters

The leaders from the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) were expected to discuss reducing trade and investment barriers and speeding up regional economic integration and infrastructure development.

Opening the summit, which is taking place under high security, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday called for closer cooperation in the region.

"We all feel the pain of the crisis," Yudhoyono said. "It is therefore important to develop closer cooperation towards accelerating economic growth and global recovery."

Among the leaders attending are Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to arrive on Monday.

Obama cancellation

However, US President Barack Obama, who had hoped to use the summit to iron out issues regarding the free-trade pact he is promoting, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), cancelled his attendance at the summit because of the current US government shutdown over a Congress budget row. He is being represented at the summit by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Despite Obama's absence, twelve APEC members were expected to continue work on the pact, which the US president sees as underlining a US "pivot" towards Asia as a counterbalance to China's increased influence in the region.

The 12 members involved in the TPP talks on the sidelines of the APEC meeting are the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker told reporters in Bali on Sunday that delegates had reached agreement on several thorny issues in the proposed pact. The US hopes to secure a deal on the TPP by the end of the year.

In addition to the countries listed above, other APEC members include China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

tj/hc (dpa, AFP, AP)