As President Barack Obama and other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit made the 30-minute trek to Leeward Oahu they came across a smattering of protests this morning.
Two Hawaiian sovereignty groups were among a smattering of protesters lining Farrington Highway hoping to send messages to world leaders gathered at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings at Ko Olina Resort today.
Farrington Highway is the only way in and out of the resort.
The Hawaiian Independence Action Alliance halted traffic on the highway at the Laaloa Street intersection for five minutes, an action that had been coordinated with the Honolulu Police Department. Officers from the aloha shirt-clad Civil Affairs Division and Bicycle Detail blocked off the intersection from vehicles as about 20 protesters stood in the crosswalk and held up letters that spelled out "FREE HAWAII."
Across the street and several hundred feet away, about a dozen members of the group Reinstated Hawaiian Government had erected signs demanding the return of lands to the Hawaiian nation. Along a vacant parcel alongside the highway, the group also had set up a tent for its supporters and those wishing to learn more about the movement.
Others demonstrated near the entrance to the hotel, with one group of four little girls holding individual signs spelling out “C-A-I-N,” a reference to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.
Obama and the other leaders made the 30-minute trek to Leeward Oahu at about 9 a.m. today.
Obama opened the morning session at the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort saying the U.S. will not be able to put people back to work and expand opportunity unless the Asia-Pacific region also is successful.
The president called the region “absolutely critical” to America’s growth, and a top priority for his administration and said he hoped for progress today toward the goal of a seamless regional economy.
“Our 21 economies, our nearly 3 billion citizens are looking to us to bring our economies closer to increase exports, to expand trade and opportunities that create jobs and economic growth,” Obama said. “That’s why we’re here. I’m confident we can make significant progress; we’ve done it before.”
He laid out three goals of the summit as increasing trade and investments, promoting green jobs, and streamlining and coordinating regulations to encourage trade and job creation.
At a large hexagonal-shaped conference table, Obama was flanked by Japan Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on his right and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to his left.
Obama was meeting throughout the day with leaders of nations from Chile to China that account for roughly half of the world’s trade. He was to cap the summit with a solo news conference this afternoon. It’s part of a nine-day trip that will also take him to Australia and Indonesia.