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Bush outlines Asia trip in radio address

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While en route to Alaska at the start of his three-nation Asia trip, President Bush promised Saturday in a pre-recorded radio address that Pacific nations would "find in America a nation that is determined and patient and committed to the great cause of building a world that is more peaceful, more secure, and more prosperous."

Bush left Washington on Saturday to fly to Elmendorf Air Force Base, where he plans to address military personnel and later attend a Republican fund-raiser in nearby Anchorage.

He had originally been scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea and China in October, but the trip was postponed because of the terrorist strikes and subsequent war in Afghanistan.

Bush's first stop will be Japan, where economics will dominate the private discussions between Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

In his radio address, Bush said he had "great confidence" in Japan's efforts to reverse a period of economic uncertainty.

"I'm confident that Japan will make the bold reforms needed to restore growth and opportunity, which will benefit the people of both our nations," he said.

Bush's stop in South Korea will likely see a focus on his State of the Union reference to an "axis of evil" that included North Korea.

The president said Saturday he intended to visit the demilitarized zone between the two nations, "where barbed wire marks a line dividing freedom and oppression."

South Korean officials were concerned about Bush's strong language in the State of the Union address, but one senior U.S. official said they were "much more reassured now" after consultations with top U.S. officials about the president's intentions.

The president arrives in China 30 years after President Richard Nixon's groundbreaking trip there and a few months before the Communist Party Conference where Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao is expected to succeed President Jiang Zemin.

"In China, I look forward to seeing again, firsthand, the remarkable changes that are taking place as China opens to the world," he said. "And I will express my hopes that as China moves forward, it, too, will embrace the universal demands of human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, and the rights and value of every life."

In his radio address, the president praised "a spirit of friendship and cooperation" that was bringing the nations around the Pacific Ocean closer since last fall's terrorist attacks.

"The people of Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing touched all our hearts in the days after September 11, with moving displays of sympathy and support in the wake of the terrorist attacks," the president said in his address. "Today, all three nations are supporting our fight against terrorism."




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