(WASHINGTON) — Leaders of nations from the Pacific region will gather in San Francisco for the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in San Francisco next week — and the U.S. Secret Service has a plan to thwart threats amid heightened international tensions.
With wars ongoing in multiple regions across the globe and an elevated threat environment, leaders from the Secret Service — the agency responsible for securing the event — say they are taking no chances.
“We’re always monitoring the current environment and potential threats,” Secret Service Director Kim Cheadle told ABC News in an interview. “We have seen, obviously, over the last several years groups or demonstrators or individuals that will use large scale events to garner attention or to have an audience to get their point across, and so Secret Service, we obviously respect the right of people to peacefully demonstrate.”
The Secret Service is working with the FBI and other agencies that receive intelligence and will “adjust our security posture accordingly” to coordinate with local law enforcement, Cheadle said.
The APEC event is designated a National Special Security Event (NSSC) by the secretary of Homeland Security and puts the Secret Service in charge of planning and coordinating the event. Other NSSC events include the Super Bowl and United Nations General Assembly.
Cheadle says the Secret Service brings a “number” of resources in securing major events like APEC.
“We bring personnel. We bring technical assets and a number of resources to bear,” she said.
Law enforcement leaders have said one of the most concerning threats is the threat of a lone wolf actor. Cheadle said that because the primary responsibility of Secret Service agents is to protect the president, they are well equipped to combat this threat.
“It is important to note that the Secret Service has the responsibility of protecting the president at events daily, and so that is something that is always on our radar. … This is obviously a larger event in size and scope, and so we may bring different assets or more assets to bear to mitigate those potential threats. But that is something that that the Secret Service is very conscious of every day,” she said.
There are 21 heads of state set to attend APEC, including President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two are expected to meet during the summit.
China’s attendance is noteworthy given the country’s increasingly aggressive moves in the Indo-Pacific, with Xi instructing his military to “be ready by 2027” to invade Taiwan, according to U.S. intelligence.
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