U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Asia-Pacific leaders called for more cooperation to fight terrorism as they ended a summit in Manila. It's a rare non-economic statement from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.
The statement was in reaction to last week's attacks in Paris by the Islamic State group and follows a similar declaration from the G-20 summit in Turkey during the weekend.
“We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies," said the APEC closing statement obtained by CNN before its release later on Thursday. "Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization. We stress the urgent need for increase national cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism."
France and Russia, which conducted separate airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria before the Paris attacks, are already planning joint military operations there. French President François Hollande plans to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama next week. Obama led the formation of an anti-ISIS coalition last year.
The statement is a rare show of unity among the U.S., China and Russia, the three military powers in the Asia Pacific. On Wednesday, Obama called on China to stop reclaiming land and building military facilities in disputed parts of the South China Sea. China responded by saying the U.S. should stop "heightening tensions" and "complicating disputes." On Tuesday, the American president said the U.S. was giving the Philippines two more ships to help defend its borders. The Philippines has had face-offs with China in the disputed areas and has taken China to an international court in the Netherlands over the issue. Last month, the U.S. sent guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within the 12-mile radius claims around one of those reclaimed islands.
Meanwhile, the U.S. remains at odds with Russia over its annexation of Crimea last year. Even in Syria, Russia's support for President Bashar Assad means it is fighting forces backed by the U.S. there. Obama and Putin had a meeting at the G-20 summit in Turkey, which observers and media took as a sign that terrorist attacks were bringing them closer together.
On Wednesday, Obama called Putin a "constructive partner."
Putin skipped the APEC summit, saying he had to focus on the probe into the downing of a Russian charter jet in Egypt last month. This week, he said Russia confirmed that ISIS was behind that bombing, leading to the talks for joint military operations with France.