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Chile withdraws as host of Apec trade and climate summits

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Chile has withdrawn as host of the Apec trade summit in November and the COP25 climate summit in December after several weeks of violent unrest, President Sebastian Pinera announced on Wednesday.

[SANTIAGO] Chile has withdrawn as host of the Apec trade summit in November and the COP25 climate summit in December after several weeks of violent unrest, President Sebastian Pinera announced on Wednesday.

The APEC summit was scheduled to bring together 20 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, over Nov 16-17. The COP25 programme was due to run between Dec 2 and Dec 13.

"This has been a very difficult decision, a decision that causes us a lot of pain, because we fully understand the importance of Apec and COP-25 for Chile and for the world," Mr Pinera said in a brief statement from La Moneda palace in Santiago. 

Chile is grappling with its worst social crisis in decades that shows little sign of abating despite Mr 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 US$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.

Mr 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.

Mr Trump’s plan to ink a trade accord with Mr Xi  next month has been thrown into question following the cancellation of the summit.

The cancellation  appeared to catch the White House off guard. It isn’t yet clear whether US officials will look for an alternate venue to salvage the meeting with Mr Xi or the broader Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

The possibility of a Trump-Xi meeting in Santiago next month has buoyed markets as investors look for signs that an end to the multi-year trade war between the two nations is in sight. The White House was working as recently as Tuesday to finish a “phase one” agreement with an eye toward the leaders signing it in Chile, according to a statement from White House spokesman Judd Deere.

REUTERS,AFP,BLOOMBERG

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