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Chile pulls out of hosting key climate and trade summits after violent unrest

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Protests against Chile's government in Valparaiso
Protests against Chile's government in Valparaiso -
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Reuters
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A major international conference to address climate change is looking for a new host country. The United Nations COP 25 conference was due to be held in the Chilean capital, Santiago, next month. But because of widespread public unrest, President Sebastián Piñera has cancelled the event. Now its organisers are now hurriedly trying to find an alternative venue, in an alternative country.

Organisers are scrambling to salvage the two major international events after Piñera cancelled at very short notice the upcoming APEC trade summit and COP25 climate summit in the wake of weeks of violent unrest.

The Chilean President said it had been a “very difficult decision” to withdraw as host, as he understood the importance of the summits to Chile and the rest of the world.

The APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit, scheduled for November 16-17, was set to bring together 20 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A White House official said the cancellation of the summit caught the Trump administration by surprise, and it was seeking further information.

And the UN’s climate chief has said the organisation is now exploring a range of options for where to host the COP25 summit, which was due to be held in Santiago from December 2-13.

Riots, arson and protests over inequality this month have left at least 18 dead, 7,000 arrested and Chilean businesses hit with losses of around $1.4 billion (€1.25 bn). The capital city's metro public transport suffered nearly $400 million (€359 m) in damages.

With Pinera's popularity at an all-time low, Chileans were calling for new protests and the United Nations was sending a team to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.

On Friday, as many as a million Chileans took to the streets of Santiago in the biggest rally since violence broke out over inequality in the country.

The protests started over a hike in public transport fares, and now the military has taken on security in the capital which is under a state of emergency, with night-time curfews and soldiers patrolling the streets.

"Earlier today, I was informed of the decision by the Government of Chile not to host COP25 in view of the difficult situation that the country is undergoing," U.N. Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement. "We are currently exploring alternative hosting options," she added.

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