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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
US takes anti-terror drive to Apec
APEC preparations
President Bush wants to shore up the anti-terror coalition
By BBC Washington correspondent Rob Watson

"It's not the right time to be travelling," say some critics. "Nonsense," says the White House.

US officials say the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Shanghai is the perfect opportunity for the president to continue building the international coalition against terrorism. A job, they say, the president can do best face-to-face.

Apec's different voices

The president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told reporters the summit, which opens on Saturday, was "a unique opportunity for the president to meet personally with 20 Pacific Rim leaders".

The diplomacy itself will be decidedly private, carried out in one-on-one meetings the president has scheduled with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the other Apec leaders.
Protestors in Jakarta
As protests in Indonesia demonstrate, there is concern in APEC countries over US military strikes

The US is giving little away about specifics, saying only that such meetings will give the president a chance to review where things are and to continue its efforts.

More publicly, the summit itself is expected to condemn the 11 September attacks and commit member states to cracking down on terrorists' funding.

But Apec is hardly of one voice. Some members, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, have expressed concern about the bombing of Afghanistan.

Others will undoubtedly be seeking some kind of pay-off from Washington for their continued support or at least silence.

Open for business

Although the fight against terrorism is set to dominate the Shanghai gathering, it is not the only issue.

The US also wants the summit to help boost the sagging global economy. The medicine it is prescribing: more free trade and more investment.

With many other Apec leaders also worried about the economic slowdown, fighting recession is likely to be less controversial than fighting terrorism.

So expect the leaders to sign up to a statement pledging to speed up trade and investment liberalisation.

For a man who is said not to be a great fan of international summitry, President Bush's decision to attend at all is in some ways the most significant story of all.

It is clearly part of his effort to convince people at home and abroad that the US is still open for business, including the business of diplomacy.

See also:

15 Oct 01 | World
Anthrax fears shake world
15 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Apec set for summit row
09 Sep 01 | Business
Apec agrees anti-recession measures
06 Apr 01 | Business
Apec's free trade struggle
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