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APEC leaders greeted by protests

North Korea, global security among issues on the agenda

President Bush and the first lady wave Friday before boarding Air Force One to Chile.
North Korea
White House

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and other leaders from Asian and Pacific countries have begun arriving in the Chilean capital of Santiago for a weekend summit focusing on trade and economic issues.

Also high on the agenda will be discussions about how to persuade North Korea to back away from its nuclear ambitions.

Bush arrived in Santiago Friday evening for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, making his first international trip since winning a second term of office on November 2.

Throughout the day, thousands of anti-Bush and anti-globalization protesters took to the streets of the city, at times clashing with police who used tear gas and water cannons to control the crowds.

More protests are expected as APEC meetings get under way Saturday, although demonstrators are being kept far from the summit site.

Chilean authorities have launched a massive security operation, with special guard forces and police on horseback throughout the city.

While in Chile, Bush will meet the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, which, along with the United States, have been involved in six-party talks with North Korea about its nuclear program.

North Korea has walked away from those talks, but South Korean officials have expressed optimism that North Korea may return to the negotiating table, now that the U.S. presidential election is over.

While the top White House goal is to come out of the summit showing a united front against North Korea, its negotiating partners are also expected to push Bush to offer security and other incentives to move along the negotiations.

Bush's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin may also prove particularly noteworthy, given Putin's comments earlier this week that Russia is developing a new type of nuclear weapon.

That development, along with Putin's efforts at home to consolidate power, has left some critics calling for Bush to take a tougher line against a man with whom the U.S. leader enjoys a warm personal relationship.

"The Bush administration is going to have to take the gloves off a little bit and be a little bit more head-on about where President Putin is leading his country," said Wendy Sherman, a former State Department counselor.

The APEC summit, which includes leaders of 21 countries, is designed to foster economic cooperation, although security issues have loomed large in the past two years.

This year's event comes at a time when South American countries are increasingly looking toward Asia for economic opportunities, with China quickly closing in on the United States as the region's major trading partner.

Staunch supporters of free trade complain that the United States has been ignoring South America since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil and Argentina before arriving in Santiago, where he will also discuss a free trade agreement with Chile, the world's leading copper producer.

Other economic issues likely to arise at this year's summit include rising world oil prices, the weak dollar and U.S. budget deficits, all of which could impact international trade.

APEC's 21 members, in alphabetical order, are:

Australia; Brunei; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea (South Korea); Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Taipei; Thailand; the United States; Vietnam.

CNN correspondents John King, Lucia Newman, Dana Bash and Stan Grant contributed to this report.

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