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APEC Economic Leaders Meeting Opens on Trade, Anti-terrorism

The 11th Economic Leaders Meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum opened in Bangkok Monday afternoon amid tight security.

The first-day session, called "retreat I," of the two-day event, was held in the Thai Government House following the arrivals of leaders in alphabetical order of the 21 APEC economies.

Following a photo pose, the leaders began their closed-door talks in a "casual" manner, which Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he was hoping for.

The session, chaired by Thaksin, would last around 75 minutes.

This year's APEC leaders' meeting is expected to be dominated by efforts to salvage the Doha Round of multilateral trade talks, enhance economic cooperation and strengthen the combat against terrorism.

Some 20,000 police and troops have been deployed in the Thai capital to ensure safety for the event.

Later in the afternoon, the leaders will have a dialogue with the APEC Business Advisory Council.

On October 17-18, the APEC ministers, who finalized the agenda for the leaders' meeting, called for reviving the Doha Round talks and reiterated pledge to realize the Bogor Goals, which aim for free and open trade between APEC developed members by 2010 and between developing members by 2020.

The APEC leaders' meeting came one month after the collapse of the World Trade organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, and one year after the devastating terror bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali, which killed 202 people. APEC members, such as Russia and Indonesia, were also struck by terror attacks this year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2003)

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