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Chile cancels plans to host APEC summit due to protests

By
Clyde Hughes
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam, on November 10, 2017. Chile, the chosen host for this year's event, canceled the plans Wednesday. File Photo by Anthony Wallace/EPA-EFE
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam, on November 10, 2017. Chile, the chosen host for this year's event, canceled the plans Wednesday. File Photo by Anthony Wallace/EPA-EFE

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Wednesday canceled the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month, due to disruptions caused by ongoing mass demonstrations that call for various governmental reforms.

Pinera said Chile will no longer host the United Nations climate change conference in December, either.

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"We understand perfectly the importance of APEC and [the climate change conference] for Chile and the world, but we have based our decision on common sense," he said in a statement. "A president needs to put its people above everything else."

The protests began this month, initially to oppose planned transportation price hikes but it has since evolved into a national movement for various issues.

RELATED Protests erupt in Chile despite Cabinet reshuffle

News reports have indicated the United States and China were aiming to sign a preliminary trade agreement at the APEC event, which was scheduled for Nov. 16 and 17. The trade conflict has been going for more than a year.

"It's our understanding [APEC] does not currently have a secondary site prepared," White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Wednesday.

"We're awaiting potential information regarding another location."

RELATED Chilean leader promises reforms to stem growing national protests

Papua New Guinea hosted the event last year and Vietnam in 2017. The United States last hosted in 2011.

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Gidley indicated U.S. and Chinese negotiators were indeed looking to the Chile summit to sign the trade agreement.

"We look forward to finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame, and when we have an announcement, we'll let you know," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has previously called the initial stage of a U.S. trade proposal "Phase One." Part of the proposal called for the United States to cancel more tariffs that affect $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The proposed deal is expected to resolve long-standing grievances related to intellectual property and financial services, and Beijing's one-time pledge to spend billions on American agricultural products.

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