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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK : So Just What Is APEC Anyway? ‘Four Adjectives in Search of a Noun’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So was it a meeting? A summit? A forum? A group? Just what is this Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC for short?

“Four adjectives in search of a noun,” said Gareth Evans, Australian minister for foreign affairs.

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Call it what you will, it was the most important international gathering on the West Coast since the United Nations was organized in San Francisco in 1945. But let’s keep APEC in perspective: The secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization has a staff of 20 and a budget of $2 million. By comparison, the Los Angeles Humane Society employs 80 with a budget of $4.5 million.

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Seattle hotels hosting the rich and/or powerful world leaders in town this week boast of going to great lengths to make them feel at home. But perhaps new heights were achieved for the Sultan of Brunei and other Muslims staying at one downtown hotel. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the ceilings of those suites were painted with arrows pointing toward Mecca--accurately fixed by a staffer using nautical maps.

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Protocol update. Boeing Co. is America’s No. 1 exporter, Seattle’s No. 1 employer and the No. 1 corporate sponsor of these trade talks. Its private jetport south of downtown was the landing field for the airplanes of heads of states and ministers. So it was widely reported and not well-received in these parts when the Sultan of Brunei arrived not in his private Boeing 767 or 747-400, but instead his European Airbus Industrie A310, made by Boeing’s fiercest competitor.

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Diplomatic speculation: The sultan was subtly expressing his solidarity with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, who would rather Asians form a trade group without the United States.

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President Clinton has been quizzed about his coffee intake several times since he arrived in caffeine-crazed Seattle. But when a conference employee crossed a security area to bring Clinton a latte , it caused Secret Service agents’ hearts to race. The employee later said agents told him he could have been shot.

Times researcher Doug Conner contributed to this report.

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