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Putin Opens APEC Summit In Vladivostok


Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses international businessmen gathered ahead of the APEC summit in the eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok on September 7.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, opening a summit of Asia-Pacific nations in the Russian Far Eastern seaport of Vladivostok, cautioned against what he called excessive use of economic protectionism.

"The protectionism pill, of course, eases the pain temporarily but hampers global economic recovery on the whole," Putin said, "it restrains trade and investment activities."

The two-day meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is attended by hundreds of top managers and government officials.

In his welcoming address, Putin vowed to try to leverage his country's fresh membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to encourage fairer trade rules.

"As a full-fledged member of WTO, we plan to become actively involved in the process of establishing fair international trade rules," he said. "In particular, we consider it necessary to develop special regulations allowing countries to support certain sectors of their economy that are most vulnerable and sensitive to global instability."

The Russian leader also spoke of future plans to create a Eurasian Economic Union, which he said "can become a linking factor between Europe and the Asian Pacific region."

Russia and ex-Soviet neighbors Belarus and Kazakhstan already have a customs union, but Putin wants to take that integration further.

Security And Water, Too

Discussions at the summit were also expected to focus on improving access to water and regional economic integration, as well as food security.

In an article published in "The Wall Street Journal" ahead of the summit, Putin called on the participants in the summit to "jointly offer answers" to prevent a global food crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- the top American official present -- was expected to meet with Putin separately.

Putin met early on September 7 with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Leaders from Japan and South Korea and the director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, are also present.

APEC accounts for approximately 40 percent of the world's population, and 55 percent of the world economy.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax