PGMA, other APEC leaders gather at Sydney Opera House for 2007 summit
SYDNEY (8 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the other 20 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders started arriving at the world-famous Sydney Opera House as early as 10 a.m. Saturday (Australia time) for the highest-level talks of the 15th APEC meeting.
The President posed for a photo opportunity with Australian Prime Minister John Howard upon arrival at Australia's expressionistic performing arts theatre.
There is an unprecedented level of security at the Opera House for the annual meeting of the APEC leaders who will discuss a range of issues, with climate change, energy security, and the long-stalled Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations at the top of the agenda.
The 21 leaders that include President Arroyo, US President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are scheduled to meet with business leaders this morning before they go on their First Retreat, or an informal and relaxed manner of discussing issues of common concern.
Australia is hoping to get agreement on a Sydney Declaration, which will see APEC member countries commit to setting an "aspirational" and non-binding target to reduce greenhouse gases when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Prime Minister Howard has made climate change the major issue at the APEC 2007 Summit but has ruled out setting greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The leaders, dressed in an Australian-themed outfit, would pose for the official APEC photograph before they begin their meeting. It is speculated by many that the 21 leaders would don the traditional Australian Akubra hat and Drizabone jackets. Organizers have only revealed the colors---eucalyptus green, mustard yellow, slate blue and ochre.
Tonight, the APEC leaders will watch a fireworks display from the Opera House.
The summit continues on Sunday for Retreat 2 at the New South Wales Government House, but without President Bush, who is scheduled to fly out of Sydney tonight. (OPS/PIA) [top]