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US, China claim leadership role in Asia-Pacific region

MOSCOW — The diplomatic tussle between China and the United States intensified Saturday at the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia, with both claiming a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region.

But it is host country Russia that wants to take a more dominant role.

The 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation members reiterated their concerns on the eurozone crisis, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was also affecting economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia was interested in the restructuring of public finances in the European Union because half its trade was with EU countries.

Russia also holds 40 percent of its foreign reserves in euros.

In opening remarks Friday, Putin said the world economy’s center of gravity was shifting away from Europe and the United States towards Asia-Pacific countries such as China and Russia.

“The global economic landscape is changing even as we speak, it is a fact of life,” the Russian leader said. “The world is moving into a new economic and technological era . . . and it is up to us gathered here to meet these changes intelligently and pragmatically.”

Emphasizing the U.S. shift toward Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the meeting that “much of the history of the 21st century is being written in Asia.”

The world’s second-largest economy, China, said it wanted a “locomotive of progress” in the region. Despite a slowdown, China wants to maintain its role as a global economic engine, said President Hu Jintao.

He acknowledged that the export sector was “under pressure,” and there were problems with job creation. But China would counter these with billions in infrastructure investment.

The summit participants included national leaders from China, Japan, South Korea, Brunei, Canada, Peru, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

Also present was the director of the International Monetary Fund and more than 750 senior corporate executives, organizers said.

The Kremlin said the forum was an important step in Russian efforts to develop its distant Far Eastern provinces and the regional center Vladivostok, which is 6,430 kilometers (3,995 miles) east of the capital Moscow.

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