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Putin second leader to pull out of top APEC meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping to arrive on 13 November

Russian president Vladimir Putin will not attend the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea this month, PNG APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko said Wednesday.

He becomes the second leader who will not be attending after US President Donald Trump earlier said he would not be in Port Moresby for the meeting.

APEC chief executive Chris Hawkins said the US and Russian presidents not attending an APEC summit was not a new thing.

Said Tkatchenko  “I’m not denying at all that I’m very disappointed for President Trump for not attending the summit.

“All the preparation and planning was to host him.

“We will still have the Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife.

“Pence and his wife will be here on Trump’s behalf.

“For Russia, we are happy to have the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to come and will arrive here on Nov 16.

“He was a former Russian president and a very intelligent man. We are looking forward for him to speak.

“The Russian prime minister is more in charge of the Russian economy while the president is more focused on politics side.”

Hawkins said: “I have been to two APEC summits where the presidents did not attend, and the vice-president or the state secretary attended.

“I think only President George Bush had attended all the APEC summits during his term in office.

Likewise, the Russian presidents don’t always attend APEC, and the prime minister attends on his behalf.”

Tkatchenko said Chinese President Xi Jinping would arrive on Nov 13. “The other 21 world leaders will arrive prior to the event and they will all stay in Port Moresby,” he said.

“The wives of these leaders will be with our prime minister’s wife Linda O’Neill and they will visit the National Museum and other interesting places in the city. The three P&O cruise liners will be coming in on Nov 13.”

Tkatchenko said that security for the 21 leaders was “fully covered and are more than ready to serve the leaders. Australian, New Zealand and the US governments have been supporting us in working closely with the PNG Defence Force and the Police Force to ensure that safety on air, land and sea is totally covered for all leaders’ security,” he said. They will be safe and sound in Port Moresby”.

“They will be assured the highest level of security that they have ever had. We will ensure as well that the leaders are comfortable while they are here,” he said.

“We will ensure they experience our traditional culture for them to have a wonderful experience while they stay in Port Moresby.”.

Meanwhile, the PNG Government has declared Friday November 16 a public holiday.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the public holiday was not only for people in the National Capital District, because of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit held in the capital city, but for everyone around the country.

The public holiday was endorsed by the National Executive Council to include everyone because it is unfair to have citizens outside the NCD working on the day while those in the capital city are allowed a day off.

APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko added that people could stay at home and watch on television the first State visit by the President of China Xi Jinping.

“A lot of things will be happening on that Friday. So the public holiday allows us to free up the traffic and roads and let people stay home with their families and watch live on television the State visit and the APEC (meetings) for the three days that weekend.”

The APEC Chief Executive Officers Summit is from Wednesday to Friday. The State visit is on Thursday and Friday. The Leaders’ Summit is on Saturday and Sunday.“This public holiday is for APEC to ensure that all aspects from logistics to security are covered in that time,” Tkatchenko said.

“The general public in Port Moresby can witness the visit by the President Xi Jingping and the preparations for the chief executive officers’ summit.”

The 21-member economies of APEC are the United States of America, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam. They will be represented by their prime ministers, presidents or vice-presidents.

Tkatchenko said rehearsals were being conducted on the movements of motorcades.

“The public will see a lot of activities when it comes to police and motorcades practising for the event,” he said.

“The airport is ensuring that all the construction work is completed and they can handle all the aircraft coming in from all over the world. PNG will probably never see something like this again in a long time. We have to make sure we get it right and we do it properly.” APEC Authority chief executive officer Christopher Hawkins said the key elements of what they were doing to deliver the event were in their final stages.

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