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Hundreds protest APEC on eve of meeting

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SAN FRANCISCO, California – Hundreds of demonstrators, from anti-capitalists to pro-Palestinian advocates, gathered in San Francisco on Sunday (Monday in Manila) on the eve of an APEC summit to protest against the world bloc.

The protestors marched through the US city demanding participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum put people and planet above business.

“APEC is a form of neoliberal colonial government,” Nik Evasco told AFP.

“We’re here to make sure they put people and planet front and center of the issues they are negotiating.”

President Joe Biden this week plays host to 20 other members of APEC, a trade-focused body whose summit will be dominated by the US leader’s meeting with Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping, as well as Israel’s war with Hamas.

“They are framing negotiations around trying to build a green economy, but what actually happens is exploiting… precious resources essential to develop clean solutions in order to make profits for corporate CEOs here in the US,” said Evasco.

The gathering also attracted a number of pro-Palestinian protesters, who called for an end to “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

“I’m here to protest in solidarity with Palestinians who have been undergoing 75 years of occupation and genocide and ethnic cleansing,” said Eleonore Collet, 28.

“It’s truly a genocide, and we are funding it in the US and that feels deeply wrong.”

Hamas militants launched a bloody assault in Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 people hostage, according to Israeli figures.

Meanwhile, a senior official said the United States will treat Russia as a full participant in this week’s Asia-Pacific summit here, despite US efforts to isolate Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

With a visit by President Vladimir Putin politically unthinkable, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk will represent Russia at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit taking place between 11 and 17 November.

“He’s being treated as the head of delegation, and he’ll have the opportunity to participate fully in the week’s events,” Matt Murray, the US State Department official in charge of APEC, told AFP.

Overchuk is under a variety of Western sanctions including from the European Union but not specifically under US sanctions, unlike much of Russia’s top brass.

“We’ve been consistently saying all year long that we wanted to be good hosts of APEC,” Murray said of the 21-member organization.

“But we were going to do so within the laws and regulations of the United States. And Russia’s participation, obviously, has been shaped by that, because of the sanctions,” he said.

He acknowledged that Overchuk “clearly won’t be on the same level” in diplomatic protocol as heads of state and government who are coming to APEC.

The leaders include another frequent US adversary, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will meet Wednesday with US President Joe Biden.

The United States has voiced hope for stabilizing relations with China and finding limited areas of cooperation.

In contrast, the United States has refused most contact with Russia since Putin defied US warnings and launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, spurring billions of dollars in US and other Western assistance to Kyiv.

Putin faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court and sat out summits this year in South Africa and India — both far friendlier to Russia than the United States — although he recently traveled to China.

The State Department last month publicly made clear it would not welcome Putin in San Francisco, leading Russia to reply that it was up to each APEC member to determine its own representation.

Israel’s response has since killed more than 11,000 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, over 4,600 of them children, according to the Hamas government’s media office.

Collet said even though Israel was not part of APEC, she felt it made sense to demonstrate here.

“The cause of the liberation of peoples is international, all these causes are interconnected,” she said.

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