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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia, Vietnam, Peru Join APEC Forum as Observers

PENANG, Malaysia -- Russia, Vietnam and Peru joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum as official observers Monday ahead of their full entry into the group in November, officials said.

Forum leaders agreed at their last summit in Vancouver, Canada, in November to grant full membership to the three countries while placing a 10-year moratorium on others joining the group, known by its acronym APEC.

Russian, Vietnamese and Peruvian delegates took up positions as observers, as senior officials of the group opened the first of three meetings to prepare for this year's summit in Kuala Lumpur.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin is expected to take part in this year's summit together with his Vietnamese counterpart Prime Minister Phan Van Kai and Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori alongside other world leaders such as U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Japan's Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

The admission of three new members will boost APEC's membership to 21 in November when the group enters its 10th year of operations.

Andrei Denisov, head of Russia's delegation to a meeting of senior officials from APEC member economies, said membership in the powerful group would benefit the entire nation but first and foremost the Far East and Siberia.

"While membership is of vital importance for the whole of Russia, the first row of gainers must be the regions of the Far East and Siberia," he said.

Before last year's decision to admit the three new members, Russia, Vietnam and Peru participated as "guests" in some of the 10 working groups and three other bodies operated by APEC.

Russia has participated in those dealing with energy, fisheries, human resources development, industrial science and technology, marine resource conservation, telecommunications and trade and investment data review, an APEC official said. (AFP, Reuters)