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APEC leaders prep 'visionary' terror statement



By Alex Frew McMillan
CNN Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- Terrorism is the target as leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group gather for their final day of meetings in Shanghai.

On day two of the APEC leaders summit the heads of 20 member economies -- Taiwan has withdrawn its envoy -- will ink a carefully worded declaration condemning terrorism.

They intend the declaration to be a landmark event -- a constitution in the fight against terror.

Arriving for talks Sunday morning the leaders were all sporting traditional Chinese shirts and were welcomed to the summit venue by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The two-day gathering is the ninth such meeting of APEC leaders. But this is by far the most significant.

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This summit is the largest gathering of world leaders since the September 11 attacks in the United States. China also views it as the biggest diplomatic event to happen in China, ever.

Sunday's declaration will be the first political statement ever to emerge out of an APEC meeting.

The summits usually focus on economic issues and typically result only in broad-brush statements pledging cooperation and free trade.

Wang Guangya, China's vice foreign minister and secretary general for APEC, said the leaders are writing a broad statement and are avoiding mentioning specifics.

It will not refer to the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan, he said, because the statement is intended to be "concise," "visionary" and "not too specific."

Jiang buys into Bush pitch

The September 11 attacks have given this week's meetings a sense of urgency.

Bush has been making the rounds in Shanghai, eliciting support from Asia-Pacific leaders for his anti-terrorism coalition.

He has sold the fight against terror in economic terms.

Speaking to business leaders Saturday the president painted the battle as one good versus evil -- the forces of creation and progress against the forces of destruction and death.

China's Jiang mirrored those sentiments on Sunday.

"The regional economy was hard hit by the September 11 terrorist attacks," Jiang said speaking in English. That has hit airlines, insurance and tourism the hardest, he noted.

"All this has made an already grave economic situation even worse," he said.

That means it makes sense to address terrorism as well as financial matters, Jiang explained.

The antiterrorism statement, as well as an economic statement calling for free trade and a new round of World Trade Organization talks, is due to be read at 4:05 p.m. local time.

After the declaration statement, Bush is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for their first face-to-face talks since the September 11 attacks.

Bush then heads home late Sunday night.

Building support

Russia was quick to show its backing of the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan and is likely to seek U.S. support in its ongoing fight with Muslim Chechen rebels.

Bush has said support is "near unanimous," not only for the fight against terror but also for the ongoing U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan.

He said the ruling Taliban had "chosen unwisely" in siding with evil forces and is paying the price.

He has sought to shore up backing for the war on terrorism from Muslim nations, taking time out of his packed schedule on Saturday to meet the Sultan of Brunei.

Though the bilateral was only scheduled for 10 minutes, it was a symbolic move to solicit support from Muslim Brunei.

On Saturday he also held one-on-one talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has criticized the American strikes.

Mahathir, who heads one of three Muslim APEC members, has faced heavy pressure to resist the U.S. stance on Afghanistan.

The APEC summit has been marred by a boycott from Taiwan, which pulled its representatives and headed home when its lead delegate was turned away by China.

It does not have a presence in the Leader's Summit, though it signed off on this week's declaration from trade and foreign ministers.

Taiwan has said host China must bear the full responsibility of the failure. China blames Taiwan and says it has stuck by APEC protocol, which calls for economic leaders to attend the event.

Taiwan had sought to send Li Yuan-zu, senior adviser to Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, to say its part on terrorism. China saw him as too political and said Taiwan should restrict its representation to its economics minister.

APEC's full member list is: 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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