Bush to push anti-terror agenda in China
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President Bush headed for China on Wednesday, embarking on his first trip abroad since the September 11 terrorist attacks for an international economic forum while keeping the fight against terrorism high on his agenda.
After a brief afternoon stopover in Sacramento, California, Bush set out for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai. Once there, the president will have the opportunity to make his case face-to-face with leaders of the 21-member international organization as the United States continues its military assault in Afghanistan.
"Of course, we'll talk about economics and trade," Bush said in a speech before military personnel and their families at Travis Air Force Base, before boarding Air Force One for his flight to China. "But the main thing that will be on my mind is to continue to rally the world against terrorists."
Bush said he will remind other leaders at the forum that "evil knows no borders, no boundaries. And remind them that we must take a stand. That those of us who've been given the responsibility of high office must not shirk from our duty."
Among the economies represented by APEC are Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia that could be key in efforts to fight and freeze terrorist assets and combat money-laundering practices.
Some countries participating in the summit have active terrorist groups that U.S. officials say are connected to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, accused by Bush in the September attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Philippines, for example, is the base for the Abu Sayyaf group, a militant organization believed to be tied to bin Laden, whose assets the Bush administration has targeted.
Others, such as China and Russia, could provide the United States with critical intelligence information.
"It's a whole panoply in what is a very, of course, large-scale and broad-scale attack on terrorism," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said this week in a briefing to reporters on APEC.
Fighting terrorism 'like cutting out a cancer'
Bush has said the war on terrorism -- and, in particular, on al Qaeda, believed to be active in dozens of countries -- will be fought on many fronts until the network is decimated. To that end, Rice said, the focus will be on working with countries where al Qaeda is active.
"What we want to do … is to work with every government in which there is a substantial al Qaeda presence to figure out a strategy for rooting it out," Rice said. "Because it's like cutting out a cancer now in 60-plus countries; you've got to get to these cells and root them out and disrupt them before they strike again."
Bush could face some resistance in his efforts. Leaders in Indonesia and Malaysia, for example, have condemned the U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan. Indonesia -- the most populous Muslim country in the world -- has been the site of anti-U.S. protests in recent days.
The United States supports a draft statement being circulated at APEC that American officials said they hope all 21 members will back.
The declaration calls for members to "unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, as a profound threat to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of all faiths, of every nation."
Secretary of State Colin Powell, also attending the forum, will participate Thursday in a special breakfast meeting in which the only topic will be combating terrorism.
"I think we'll come out with a pretty strong joint statement that will reflect the cohesion of the coalition that it is standing together in this time of crisis," Powell told reporters traveling with him from India to Shanghai.
The statement is expected to be released Sunday at the summit's end. The draft also says APEC leaders will commit to stronger international cooperation to crack down on money laundering and to a broader "anti-terrorist regime."
Bush to meet with Jiang, Putin
Bush also plans a series of one-on-one meetings with more than a half-dozen leaders during his trip, including President Jiang Zemin of China and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
"There will be different conversations with different nations about what they think, about the future of Afghanistan, about their efforts in the coalition, their financial efforts, for example, in seizing assets or shutting down banks or entities that fund the al Qaeda organization," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday.
U.S. officials describe security precautions at APEC as extraordinary and are praising Chinese officials for their cooperation in the preparations, including permission for the U.S. Air Force to escort Air Force One into Chinese airspace.
APEC's members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
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