APEC "in great shape" Aussie PM declares
Fighting common challenges such as climate change, and ensuring energy security and sustainable development of all countries in the region, were the goals agreed by the 21 member countries of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.
On Saturday, the APEC summit participants reached a tentative agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting non-binding goals to improve energy use, and the Australian Prime Minister announced that a Sydney Declaration had been adopted.
“In the Sydney Declaration we have agreed on three very important and quite specific things. Firstly, the need for a long-term global emissions reduction goal – and that is enshrined in the Sydney Declaration. Secondly, the need for all nations – no matter their stage of development – to contribute according to their capacities and their own circumstances to reducing greenhouse gases. Thirdly, we have agreed on specific APEC goals on energy intensity. We also agreed on the important role of clean coal technologies,” the Australian Prime Minister stated.
Meanwhile Green groups say the APEC declaration does nothing to address these threats.
According to polls, Australians see climate change as a greater threat than even international terrorism. At the Great Barrier Reef, rising temperatures are causing corals to turn white – a process that may result in their death. Scientists warn global warming could also decimate the reef's fish populations or send them look for cooler pastures.
After reaching agreement on the urgent environmental issues, the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Rim countries also urged further efforts to integrate their economies.
In his closing speech the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, declared the summit's final conclusions.
“We all believe that this meeting has left APEC in great shape. We are particularly pleased that the progress made with the climate change declaration and the reaffirmation of the central importance of the trade liberalisation, which after all was the core-driving force behind APEC’s establishment in the first place,” Mr Howard said.
The search for ways to slow and reverse global warming will continue in December at a UN meeting in Indonesia aimed at developing a post-Kyoto agreement.
Members of the Russian delegation were satisfied with both the outcome of the APEC summit and the bilateral meetings that had taken place.
“We are happy to see that most participants of this summit have now accepted the traditional Russian approach to have a discussion here not just about trade and economy, but to broaden the agenda on other issues. And this time, it was very much about combating international terrorism, having solutions for climate changes, and other issues important not only for Russia, but for other countries of the region as well,” Konstantin Kosachyov, Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, said.
Russia’s President Putin held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the official APEC summit’s agenda.
Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister
This is a good step in preparation for the December meeting in Bali, Indonesia, under the United Nations’ aegis when participants of the Kyoto Protocol will be considering measures to be taken after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol will be expired. And as far as Russian interests are concerned, we are thankful to all colleagues in APEC for supporting the candidature of Vladivostok to host the APEC summit in 2012.
He has met with the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao. Mr Putin stated that relations between Russia and China have reached their height, and Russia's policy towards China will remain unchanged. In his comments after the meeting, Hu Jintao stressed the talks were open and sincere.
Russia also says it is ready to find a compromise and a peace agreement with Japan. That was the outcome of a meeting between the Russian President and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two have been at disagreement over the ownership of the Kuril Islands.
“Russia is interested in the negotiation process which will lead to a peace treaty between our countries. We will try to find solutions which are acceptable for both sides. I'm confident that Russia will continue this process even after the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our country,” the Russian President underlined.
Mr Shinzo Abe, for his part, also pointed out his country’s readiness for further co-operation.
“During the previous meeting we also discussed Russian-Japanese actions in all spheres, including the important matter of signing a peace treaty, which we are interested in. I already initiated the strengthening of our partnership in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. We met today in the framework of the APEC summit – and I want to say that Japan backed Russia's bid to host the 2012 APEC forum in Vladivostok from the point of strengthening of our co-operation,” he said.
Russia and Japan haven't signed a peace agreement since World War II, when Japan fought against the Soviet Union on the side of Nazi Germany.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also met with the South Korean leader. A number of issues, mainly economical, were discussed. Mr Putin expressed his satisfaction with the way bilateral trade relations between the two countries are developing. Also, the two leaders touched upon the North Korean controversial nuclear programme issue.
“We’ve achieved considerable progress on the North Korean nuclear problem as we sought to address the concerns of the international community in respect to this programme, and as we sought to take into account the interests of your northern neighbour,” Mr Putin said.
Meantime, thousands people were taking part in largely trouble-free demonstrations at the summit, mainly aimed at U.S. President George Bush.