Thursday, April 26, 2018

Putin hits back at foes, defends

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Pacific Rim leaders pledged Sunday to fend off the deepening damage from the European crisis and revive flagging growth in the region by supporting open trade, reforming their economies and strengthening public finances.

The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum wrapped up an annual summit in this far eastern Russian seaport, vowing to work together to support growth and restore confidence in shaken financial markets. The region accounts for half of all world economic activity and 40 percent of world trade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the summit, declared it a success. Putin used the event, held for the first time in Russia, to underscore his country's eagerness to sharply increase business and trade ties with the Far East.

"We believe we have reached all the goals set for the APEC leaders' week in Vladivostok," he declared.

At the same time, Putin made clear that he had little interest in working with the United States to encourage a political transition in Syria, where President Bashar Assad's government continues to cling to power with a violent crackdown on the rebels.

Putin met privately with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday night. But the two failed to bridge the gaps that divided them.

"We haven't seen eye to eye with Russia on Syria," Clinton said in Vladivostok before returning to the United States. "That may continue."

In the declaration at the end of the summit, the world leaders also said that they would continue to promote free trade and combat protectionism, particularly in food exports. They announced a new agreement to reduce tariffs on a list of goods identified as beneficial to the environment, and they pledged to combat corruption and protect endangered wildlife.

Numerous talks — political and economic — were held on the sidelines of the summit meeting, and some important deals were reached, including an accord signed by Japan and Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly, to move forward with plans for a multibillion-dollar transfer station here. The station will help increase Russian energy exports to Japan, which is in need of alternatives to its largely shuttered nuclear power industry.

Information from the Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.

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