U.S., Chile discuss co-hosting APEC summit in U.S. in January: source

FILE PHOTO: Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Joseph Sipalan

WASHINGTON/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The U.S. and Chilean governments are discussing co-hosting an APEC summit in the United States in January after Chile dropped plans to stage the event in Santiago this month, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

Malaysia’s foreign minister said earlier that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him that the United States was thinking of hosting the annual summit of Asia-Pacific nations in January, and that Malaysia did not support the idea.

Chile last week backed out of hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that had been scheduled for Nov. 16-17 because of violent street protests. Malaysia is set to host the next APEC summit, scheduled for end-2020.

The senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said discussions were underway about Washington and Santiago working together to reschedule this year’s summit at an unspecified U.S. venue but that no decision had been made.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told reporters earlier on Thursday that Pompeo had spoken to him in Bangkok and told him that the United States was thinking of hosting the APEC summit in January.

“But I have informed the American officials who were in Bangkok that we don’t think it’s a good idea,” he added, without elaborating.

Abdullah was in the Thai capital earlier this month for a regional summit. The United States sent a delegation, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross the highest-ranking U.S. official in attendance.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had originally been expected to sign an interim deal to end a damaging trade war at the Chile summit.

The Trump-Xi meeting could be delayed until December as discussions continue over terms and venue, the senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Krishna N. Das in Kuala Lumpur and Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Rosalba O’Brien