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APEC ministers meet on financial crisis, Doha talks
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Foreign and trade ministers from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum met in Lima Wednesday to discuss such issues as the global financial crisis and the Doha round of trade talks.

"We came to this meeting facing a great opportunity and a wide range of challenges. How to promote growth and how to restore confidence in the market are at the top of the agenda," Mercedes Araoz, Peru's International Trade and Tourism Minister, said during the gathering's opening session.

"How to take advantage of the unique structure of APEC and how to achieve greater integration of the region are among the issues to be discussed," Araoz said, adding that the ministers will prepare documents for the Leaders' Meeting, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

At Wednesday's meeting, the APEC ministers backed the action plan adopted by the G20 summit in Washington earlier this month to overcome the financial crisis. The APEC leaders would issue a special statement on the crisis as a "complement" to the G20 plan, said Peruvian Deputy Foreign Minister Gonzalo Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, the ministers also agreed that a framework of agreement on the Doha Round should be sealed as soon as possible, preferably by the end of this year. That's as part of international efforts to counter the financial storm.

"The time has come for the Doha round to be brought to a conclusion and that I think is the main topic of conversation for APEC this week," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters.

Trade ministers are being urged to "meet before the end of the year in an effort to bring the Doha round to a successful conclusion," Smith said.

Hirofumi Nakasone, Japan's foreign minister, said special attention should be given to the development of emerging economies amidst the crisis.

"Despite the tough circumstances, we shouldn't retreat from our present support for development. Our country is determined to meet developing countries' expectations," Nakasone said.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said APEC members will be key players in global economic development because of the role they maintain in trade between Asia and the Americas.

"We recognize that it will be the century of the Asia-Pacific region and the economies of APEC will be the guides of global economic growth," he said.

Peru, which has maintained healthy economic growth, will also contribute to the development of its trading partners within APEC, Belaunde said.

During the two-day meeting, the ministers will also discuss, among other things, corporate social responsibility, APEC institutional reform, trade and investment, structural reform, food and climate change.

Established in 1989, APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2008)

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