Russian President Vladimir Putin has told a summit of Asian-Pacific leaders in Vladivostok that increasing trade is the key to improving the faltering recovery of the global economy.
He also said the most important task was to pool efforts to counteract protectionism.
"By removing barriers we stimulate the dynamic development of the whole Asia-Pacific region and the global economy as a whole. It is important to build bridges, not raise walls," Putin said.
"It is important to continue the formation of broader integration spaces and deepen dialogue among regional unions."
Putin spoke as he opened the first formal session of the annual two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which brings together countries from across the Pacific region.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington was now increasingly turning its attention to the Pacific region.
"After an extended period in which the United States had to focus a great deal of attention and resources on regions and conflicts elsewhere, we are now making substantially increased investments in the Asia-Pacific," Clinton said.
She also said that Washington believed "much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia," which in recent decades has had the world's fastest growing economies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at the APEC summit in Vladivostok on September 7.
Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed earlier on September 8 that China will keep its economy growing steadily. That comes amid fears a Chinese slowdown could further hamper an already weak global economic recovery.
"China will continue to stick to proactive fiscal policies and steady currency policies; keep up the continuity and stability of our macroeconomic policies; strengthen pertinence, flexibility, and far-sightedness of our macro-tuning; continue to balance stable and comparatively fast economic development, adjusting economic structure, and managing inflation expectations; effectively expand domestic demand; maintain steady and comparatively fast economic development; and keep prices generally stable," Hu said.
The 21-economy APEC region this year experienced a sharp decline in growth of trade, from 12 percent in December to 4.6 percent in May.
APEC groups economies -- both huge and tiny, rich and poor -- that account for about half of world economic activity.
Lavrov: 'Sanctions Hurt Russia'
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said U.S. sanctions against Iran and Syria were hurting Russian business interests.
He said Russian banks were particularly being affected.
He said Russia believed slapping sanctions on the Syrian government to stop the bloodshed there will not work.
Iran has been sanctioned for failing to abide by UN resolutions on its controversial nuclear program.
Lavrov was speaking after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on September 8 in Vladivostok on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders Summit, where they signed an agreement on cooperation in Antarctica
The 21-member APEC opened the first formal session of its annual two-day conference on September 8, following meetings between leaders on September 7.
With reporting by AP, ITAR-TASS, AFP, and Interfax