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APEC unites against terror

Putin and Bush
Bush has been pushing APEC leaders to unite behind the anti-terrorism coalition  

By Alex Frew McMillan
CNN Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- Leaders from across the Pacific Rim meeting at the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai have signed what they say is a "visionary" statement against terrorism.

They committed to take "appropriate financial measures" to stop the funding of terrorism, enhance protection of industries like telecommunications and transport, and watch air and sea security.

The leaders also wanted their statement to be something of a constitution against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin said Sunday it is intended to be "concise," "visionary" and "not too specific."

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He made a speech announcing the declaration in English, flanked by the 19 other leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Two days of talks among the leaders brought to an end on Sunday the week-long APEC gathering.

The attacks on New York and Washington were labeled "murderous deeds", but by avoiding mention of the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan, the leaders were able to forge what they intend to be a long-lasting commitment to fight terrorism.

They also broadened the scope of their targets, condemning "other terrorist attacks in all forms and manifestations, committed wherever, whenever and by whomsoever as a profound threat to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of all faiths, of all nations."

Thousands of delegates from the 21 APEC economies have been building up to this moment at a series of meetings this week.

In the terrorism statement, the group also expressed their commitment to free trade.

A second statement was released as well,the APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration, which has the "Shanghai accord" appended to it.

They focus on cooperation and reducing tariffs along the lines of past APEC agreements, which have concentrated on economic matters.

Bogor goals a focus

The terrorism declaration calls for a commitment to the goals signed in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, to reduce trade tariffs to zero by 2010 for developed countries and 2020 for developing ones.

The terrorism declaration is the first time since APEC was created in 1989 that it has issued a political statement.

In the past it has restricted itself to broad-brush commitments to cooperation and free trade.

Item 1 on the declaration reads:

"Leaders unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, and express their deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of a large number of nationalities and their families and to the people and Government of the United States of America," the statement starts.

They called on the United Nations to take a "major role" in combating terrorism, accounting for relevant U.N. resolutions.

Watered down

The statement was watered down during the week. It left out any mention of an alliance to combat money-laundering, which some members had suggested.

Without mentioning Afghanistan the APEC group is targetting terrorism  

The Bush administration had hoped for the statement to refer directly to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. But, with three Muslim members at APEC, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, that proved impossible to get.

Malaysia and Indonesia have condemned the U.S. response and the loss of civilian lives in Afghanistan.

There are other kinks. Countries like China and Russia are also fighting what they view as terrorists within their own borders, Muslim separatist movements in Xinjiang province and Chechnya, respectively.

With a fine line between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, there was also no clear definition on what exactly constitutes terrorism. That means the declaration is open to interpretation by the 21 members.

The definition of terrorism calls to mind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's definition of obscenity. A leader might admit he or she doesn't know how to define what terrorism is. "I know it when I see it."

But on Sunday, the leaders said they would stand side by side to fight an often shadowy enemy.

The fight has thrown together odd bedfellows. Former foes such as the United States, Russia, Vietnam and China now find themselves together in an alliance. Japan and South Korea, often staunch rivals, inked together.

"Leaders deem it imperative to strengthen international cooperation at all levels in combating terrorism in a comprehensive manner,' they said.

Historic statement

The Chinese organizers of this year's summit were worried terrorism would overshadow and dominate talks in Shanghai.

They have prepared for more than a year to showcase their business capital and their booming economy, still growing at more than 7 percent.

Despite those reservations, the events of September 11 have given APEC's gathering much more attention than it would normally draw.

Chinese officials have since changed their tune, pledging support to tackle terrorism, after persuasive meetings with President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

However, the heads of state were still careful to cast the fight against terrorism in business terms.

"Terrorism is also a direct challenge to APEC's vision of free, open and prosperous economies, and to the fundamental values that APEC members hold," the leaders wrote.

Only 20 leaders signed the terror declaration -- Taiwan boycotted the final days of the event after tensions with China over its choice of envoy.

The leaders hope that black eye will heal and that the muscle of the antiterrorism statement will be the lasting legacy of this week's gathering.

APEC's annual meeting started Monday, building to this moment with progressively more important meetings.

The leaders now head to their respective homes with Bush scheduled to leave Shanghai Sunday night.

Before then, he will have a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a working dinner. That is expected to lead toward a summit between the two at Bush's Texas ranch in November.


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