The Latest: Obama calls on China to halt land reclamation

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2015 10:18 PM
The Latest: Obama calls on China to halt land reclamation

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Leaders from 21 countries and self-governing territories are in Manila for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The meeting's official agenda is focused on trade, business and economic issues but terrorism, South China Sea disputes and climate change are also set to be in focus. (All times are local.)

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11:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama is calling on China to halt further land reclamation and new construction in the South China Sea.

Obama is meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on the sidelines of the APEC summit. He's calling for "bold steps" to lower tensions.

Obama says he and Aquino discussed the impact that China's land reclamation is having on regional stability. He's adding that maritime disputes need to be resolved peacefully.

Aquino says freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea must be continuously ensured, consistent with international law.

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11:10 a.m.

Local news reports say a woman in labor failed to reach hospital and delivered her baby on a Manila sidewalk, assisted by police, after getting caught in horrendous traffic due to road closures for APEC.

ABS-CBN news website posted pictures from eyewitness Angel Ramos-Canoy of the woman being helped off a motorcycle and assisted on the sidewalk, apparently in labor. Reports say the incident happened Monday.

Cely Gonzales of the San Juan de Dios Hospital says the woman did not want to be interviewed. Gonzales says "the mother and baby boy are doing well and are about to be discharged."

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10:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama tells a business conference on the sidelines of APEC that nations must achieve an "ambitious framework" to limit global warming.

Obama and dozens of other leaders will meet in Paris at the end of the month to finalize a carbon-cutting deal.

Obama urged businesses to view responses to climate change as an opportunity. He says there's no contradiction between economic development and protecting the environment.

"My message to you today is your businesses can do right by your bottom lines and also the planet."

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10:10 a.m.

Manila residents are complaining of difficulties getting to work and a fake image of the Philippines being presented to the world during the APEC meetings.

Roads have been closed to regular traffic in central Manila and other efforts made to spruce up the usually traffic clogged city.

Trixie Logan, 19, says it's "a bit off because it's like fake beauty, because they hid the problems around just to say that the Philippines is beautiful."

Many workers whose offices are near the APEC venues are walking for several kilometers to get to work because of the tight security.

Jaime Rocete, 63, says "workers are having a difficult time, especially for those who are sick, with arthritis, it's hard to walk."

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9:30 a.m.

Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese online commerce giant Alibaba, says there should be a "third world war," against poverty, climate change and disease.

Ma told a gathering of business leaders on the sidelines of the APEC summit on Wednesday that he is an optimist.

Ma says "You should always have hope. Try to make sure that it's not only in the movies you see Mission Impossible. In the real life you have to make mission possible."

Drawing from his own experience in building a business empire from scratch, he said that many issues, including trade disputes, can be resolved just by doing things online.

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8:30 a.m.

China is unhappy with Japanese comments about territorial tensions in the South China Sea.

Japan has voiced objections to Chinese moves to expand its claims in the South China Sea that Tokyo says are violating international law and threatening free navigation and flight in the region. Japan has also sparred with Beijing over their conflicting claims to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

At a daily press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was "dissatisfied with the remarks and actions of the Japanese side." He accused Japan of trying to stoke tensions over an issue it is not directly involved with.

The territorial spats are not on the APEC agenda, though are drawing attention.

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5:45 p.m.

Vietnam and the Philippines have signed an agreement to elevate their relationship to a strategic partnership.

The countries are the ones most at odds with Beijing over its claims to the South China Sea. Their agreement is meant to help deepen their trade, maritime and defense cooperation.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang shared their concerns over recent developments affecting the region's peace and stability.

The two leaders told reporters they reaffirmed the need to ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea.

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5:20 p.m.

Large sections of central Manila's busiest thoroughfares are closed to all but official vehicles during APEC. The nearly empty streets are a rare site in the notoriously traffic clogged city. The government is advising residents to either take a holiday or stay a home during the meetings.

The influx of foreign leaders into Manila and extra-tight security has also disrupted travel plans with hundreds of flights canceled or delayed. Manila's international airport was deserted for stretches of Tuesday as airspace was restricted for the arrival of leaders including President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping.

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4:10 p.m.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says the Paris attacks preoccupied foreign ministers as they met at the APEC summit. He says every minister that spoke at a ministerial meeting started with remarks about the attacks Friday that killed 129 people and expressed condolences to the families of victims.

"There was a common refrain from the ministers in terms of the Paris attacks," he says. "There was a call for unity of nations and peoples and there was additionally a call to bring to justice those who perpetuated the horrific developments in Paris."

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3:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will transfer two ships to the Philippine Navy as part of an effort to boost maritime security for the Southeast Asian nation.

The U.S. has tried to boost security ties with the Philippines in a bid to check China's territorial ambitions in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Obama, in Manila for the APEC summit, says the U.S. will transfer a research vessel to help navigate territorial waters and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. He announced the transfer Tuesday after touring the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a Philippine Navy warship once owned by the U.S.

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3:30 p.m.

Philippine trade secretary Gregory Domingo says trade and foreign ministers who finished two days of meetings Tuesday have called for a comprehensive study and recommendations on a proposed free trade area encompassing all of Asia and the Pacific Rim. The work is to be completed by the end of next year with an initial report scheduled for January.

He says the ministers agreed that the proliferation of regional and bilateral free trade agreements, including the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, "are all building blocs that are actually good" for global trade.

Domingo says the profusion of agreements will eventually lead to bigger free trade blocs and even progress at the long-stalled World Trade Organization talks.