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US to press for climate progress at 2023 APEC summit in San Francisco

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Asia-Pacific leaders will gather in November 2023 in San Francisco with climate high on the agenda, Vice President Kamala Harris announced Saturday, offering an opportunity for a rare US visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Harris, who is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, announced the week beginning November 12, 2023 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, as this year’s meeting wrapped up in Bangkok.

“There is no better place to host APEC 2023 than California, a state known for economic innovation,” Harris said.

She said that President Joe Biden’s administration would focus the summit on sustainability and moving economies away from carbon as part of the fight against climate change.

“We will promote economic growth and prosperity for the American people, and people throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” she said, using another term for the Asia-Pacific.

During the talks in Bangkok, Harris asked leaders to prepare new targets for reducing emissions from the power sector in time for next year’s summit, a US official said.

She also proposed an APEC-wide goal on slashing methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, which is released from oil and gas production and agriculture.

The official said Harris asked for specific commitments as most APEC nations already have longer-range goals on zeroing out the emissions responsible for climate change.

APEC, born in the 1980s, is focused on trade rather than political questions and each year offers an occasion for leaders of the 21 members to meet on the sidelines.

The APEC forum this year took place immediately after a summit in Bali of G20 economies, where Xi met Biden in their first meeting as heads of state.

Harris also spoke to Xi at the APEC summit, part of a renewed effort by the world’s two largest economies to prevent tensions from spiralling out of control.

Xi last visited the United States in 2017, meeting then-president Donald Trump at his Florida estate, but relations between the two countries later sharply deteriorated over trade, Taiwan, human rights and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russia is also an APEC member but, unlike with Xi, the United States has made clear that it will not deal as normal with its President Vladimir Putin after he ignored warnings and invaded Ukraine in February.

The United States earlier announced that APEC foreign ministers will meet next year in Seattle and that trade officials would gather in Detroit.

The United States last hosted APEC in 2011 when then-president Barack Obama invited leaders to his birth state of Hawaii.

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