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G20: Obama warns of Asia ‘intimidation’ ahead of summit

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US President Barack Obama has said that Asia’s security must not be based on intimidation where big nations bully small ones.

Mr Obama told students in Brisbane, Australia – where he is attending the G20 summit – that security in the region must depend on mutual alliances.

He said there was “no question” over US commitment to its Asia-Pacific allies.

The two-day G20 summit, which is getting under way, will focus on promoting growth.

World Leaders are expected to expand on plans agreed in February at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting to boost global economic growth by 2% in five years.

Speaking just ahead of the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also urged those attending to meet the challenges posed by Ebola, climate change and the unresolved conflict in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to face a hostile reception from some Western leaders concerned about Russia’s increasing military assertiveness.
Speaking on the fringes of the summit on Saturday, President Obama said Russia’s “aggression” towards Ukraine was a “threat to the world” – citing the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as proof.

Security in the Asia-Pacific region, meanwhile, must depend on international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes, he said.

“We believe… that any effective security order for Asia must be based not on spheres of influence, or coercion or intimidation where big nations bully the small, but on alliances for mutual security, international law and norms that are upheld, and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Mr Obama told students at Brisbane’s University of Queensland.

He warned of the dangers posed by territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where what is seen as Beijing’s assertiveness has raised concern among its neighbours.

He also used the speech to announce that the US would contribute $3bn (£1.9bn) to an international fund to help poor countries cope with the effect of climate change.

‘Any subject’
Earlier Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said world leaders would use the summit to discuss job creation, identifying tax cheats and strengthening the global economy.

His government had tried to keep climate change off the agenda, despite calls from campaigners.

But speaking to leaders on Saturday, Mr Abbott said: “Obviously I would like this discussion to focus on the politics of economic reform.

“In the end, though, this is your retreat, it is open to any of you to raise any subject that you wish.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the B20 meeting ahead of the G20 leaders summit on 14 November 2014 in Brisbane Australia
Leaders of the G20 nations are expected to focus on economic growth
In early developments:

British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “machismo” after sending a fleet of warships to the Australian coast at the same time as the G20 summit
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for closer tripartite defence ties with the US and Australia, and urged “tangible steps taken in the area of security and defence cooperation” with Canberra, in a piece for the Australian Financial Review
Brisbane, in the state of Queensland, is said to be taking unprecedented security measures for the summit, with some 6,000 police deployed.

The group of demonstrators take part in a protest by burying their heads in the sand at Bondi Beach – 13 November 2014
Protesters took to Sydney’s Bondi Beach to make a statement about the global climate change debate
Twenty-seven different groups have been given permits to protest at designated areas near the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue hosting the meeting, and thousands of people are expected over the weekend.

More than 200 protesters buried their heads in the sands of Bondi Beach on Thursday in a demonstration over climate change inaction.

The Australian government is facing criticism over its climate policies. Since coming to power, Mr Abbott has axed a carbon tax and overseen a 70% fall in investment in renewable energy.

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