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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Asian summit postponed amid Al Qaida fears

Manila: Security forces tried to disrupt plots by Al Qaida militants to stage attacks during the Asian summits but failed, leading to the decision to postpone the events, officials said on Wednesday.

Officials told reporters that the plots may have included a car bomb attack intended to embarrass the Philippine government during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and the East Asian summit in the central province of Cebu.

But the Philippine government cited a typhoon as the official reason for the cancellation.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's spokesman, Ignacio Bunye said, "We respect the views of other officials in the region, but the Philippines did the right thing in taking no chances with the safety of the leaders. We all know the fickle nature of typhoons and there was no sense at all to act in a reckless and wanton manner," Bunye said in a statement.

"The decision to postpone the summit was for the common and collective interest and we look forward to a safe and constructive meeting in January 2007," Bunye added.

Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari said Manila’s official typhoon explanation wasn’t convincing, but said, "Just the idea of gathering the leaders of 16 countries on tourist-infested Cebu island poses an extreme security risk."
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