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US-China trade deal back in doubt

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Chile pulled out of host­ing two ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sum­mits Wed­nes­day as it strug­gled to re­store order af­ter more than ten days of civil un­rest that have left at least 20 dead.

SANTIAGO (AFP) — Chile pulled out of host­ing two ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sum­mits on Wed­nes­day as it strug­gled to re­store order af­ter more than ten days of civil un­rest that have left at least 20 dead.

Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era said “com­mon sense” dic­tated the de­ci­sion to with­draw from the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion summit and the COP 25 cli­mate change con­fer­ence.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had said he was plan­ning to meet Chi­nese coun­ter­part Xi Jin­ping to lock down a “phase one” agree­ment at the Nov. 16-17 APEC meet­ing that would par­tially have ended an 18-month trade war be­tween the world’s two biggest economies.

The White House said it looked for­ward to fi­nal­iz­ing an agree­ment “within the same time­frame,” although an­a­lysts Eura­sia Group said that may not hap­pen un­til the end of the year.

“Ne­go­ti­at­ing teams on the Chi­nese and U.S. sides have con­tin­ued to main­tain close com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and ne­go­ti­a­tions are cur­rently mak­ing smooth progress,” the Chi­nese com­merce min­istry said in a state­ment Thurs­day.

APEC said it sup­ported Chile’s de­ci­sion but gave no in­di­ca­tion there would be a re­place­ment summit this year, say­ing only that Malaysia would host the 2020 event.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin had also been due to at­tend APEC, while teenage Swedish ac­tivist Greta Thun­berg was among 25,000 del­e­gates ex­pected for COP 25.

The fi­nal of South Amer­i­can football’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion, the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores, be­tween Ar­gen­tine hold­ers River Plate and Brazil­ian giants Fla­mengo will go ahead on Nov. 23 in Santiago, Chile’s sports min­istry said.

Af­ter more than 10 days of street protests, Pin­era said Chile was not in a po­si­tion to host ei­ther the APEC summit or the Dec. 2-13 cli­mate con­ven­tion.

The pull­out is seen as a blow to Chile’s tourism in­dus­try, and the Santiago stock ex­change dropped 2.8 points while the peso fell to its low­est rate against the dol­lar since 2003.

“This has been a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion, a de­ci­sion that has been deeply painful be­cause we know ex­actly how im­por­tant APEC and COP are for Chile and the world,” said Pin­era.

“When a fa­ther has prob­lems, he must al­ways pri­or­i­tize his fam­ily over other op­tions. The same goes for a pres­i­dent, he must al­ways put his own com­pa­tri­ots first, ahead of any other con­sid­er­a­tions,” he added.

Pub­lic anger

Chile is grap­pling with its worst so­cial cri­sis in decades, one that shows lit­tle sign of abat­ing de­spite Pin­era an­nounc­ing a raft of mea­sures aimed at pla­cat­ing protesters.

Demon­stra­tors have de­manded that the 69-year-old right-wing leader — whose per­sonal for­tune is es­ti­mated by Forbes at $2.8 bil­lion — step down.

They have been an­gered by low salaries and pen­sions, poor pub­lic health care and ed­u­ca­tion, and a yawn­ing gap be­tween rich and poor.

Pin­era an­nounced last week an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage and pen­sions as well as mea­sures to al­le­vi­ate sky high health care costs and a stream­lin­ing of pub­lic of­fices.

On Mon­day, he reshuf­fled his cab­i­net for the third time since com­ing to power in March 2018, but the street move­ment con­tin­ues.

Protests be­gan on Oct. 18 and dur­ing the first few days there was wide­spread de­struc­tion, ar­son and loot­ing. Twenty peo­ple died in the vi­o­lence.

Demon­stra­tions have been largely calm over the last week but there were violent clashes be­tween demon­stra­tors and se­cu­rity ser­vices on Mon­day, when shops were looted and a build­ing set on fire.

AP-Yon­hap

Anti-gov­ern­ment protesters chant against Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era in Santiago, Chile, Wed­nes­day.

Xin­hua-Yon­hap

Chile’s Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era an­nounces that he is calling off the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Eco­nomic Fo­rum (APEC) and Cli­mate Change COP25 Con­fer­ence, at La Moneda pres­i­den­tial palace in Santiago, Wed­nes­day.

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