Asia-Pacific leaders in Philippines under security shadow

US President Barack Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders arrived in the Philippines Tuesday for a summit meant to foster trade unity.

AFP| Updated: Nov 17, 2015, 13:32 PM IST

Manila: US President Barack Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders arrived in the Philippines today for a summit meant to foster trade unity but with terrorism and territorial rows likely to dominate.

The two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit will begin Wednesday under the global shadow cast by last week's murderous rampage in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

While the 21-member APEC group's mission is to promote trade, the leaders will undoubtedly discuss the tragic events in the French capital and efforts to counter the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for the carnage.

Obama travelled to Manila from Turkey, where he attended a summit of the Group of 20 top economies that also focused heavily on IS and how to destroy the jihadist network.

Islamic State leaders "will have no safe haven anywhere," Obama said at the G20 summit, vowing a ruthless pursuit of the group.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and new Canadian Justin Trudeau leader were some of the other G20 attendees due to arrive in Manila on Tuesday.

Philippine authorities, which had already deployed more than 20,000 police and soldiers for the summit, said security had been ratcheted up even higher because of the Paris attacks.

Parts of the chaotic capital of 12 million people have been brought to a standstill this week to ensure security for the leaders, with key roads closed, barricades erected and a very visible presence of security forces.

Another sensitive issue this week will be China's recent efforts to assert control over the South China Sea, which is home to some of the world's most important shipping lanes.

The other claimants are APEC members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The Philippines, one of China's most vocal critics in the row, has promised to be a "perfect host" to Xi.

But, while keeping the dispute off the official agenda, Philippine President Benigno Aquino appears to be taking the opportunity of the APEC summit to firm up alliances aimed at countering China.

Obama's first public function in Manila will be to tour the Philippine Navy's flagship vessel, the US-made Gregorio del Pilar, which is providing APEC security in Manila Bay.

Obama's aides had previously said Obama would tour the boat to showcase American commitment to providing maritime security in the region.

China's building of artificial islands in parts of the South China Sea close to the Philippines had already prompted the US military to deploy a missile destroyer and B-52 bomber planes to the area