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The BBC's Patrick O'Connell
"The President of Mexico told the others: 'We share more than a piece of land'"
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US President George W Bush
"Our goal in Quebec is to build a hemisphere of liberty"
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Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Bush calls for 'age of prosperity'
Summit leaders were urged to join forces
Summit leaders were urged to join forces
By BBC News Online's David Schepp in Quebec City

US President George W Bush has pledged to listen to voices both inside and outside the building where the Summit of the Americas is taking place in Quebec City.

The summit is to discuss plans for a giant free trade area, but the opening ceremony on Friday was delayed by violent protests against globalisation and police were on Saturday braced for further demonstrations.


We have a great vision before us - a fully democratic hemisphere bound together by good will and free trade

President Bush
Speaking before the leaders of 33 Western nations on Saturday morning, Mr Bush said he wanted to engage in constructive dialogue.

The American leader again called on the US Congress to grant him "fast-track" trade authority, which would allow him to negotiate trade deals with only the approval of the Congress.

Benefits

Mr Bush said such trade-promotion authority, as his administration prefers to call it, is a priority.

He hopes to have the trade authority in place by the end of the year.

US labour and environmental groups do not want the president to have the power to make such deals without assurances that workers and the environment are protected, and they have strong allies in a divided US Congress.

Anti-globalisation protests went on into the morning
Anti-globalisation protests went on into the morning
But Mr Bush said free trade benefits all people of the Americas, as the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) proves.

Nafta, which has eliminated many tariffs between the US, Canada and Mexico is credited for the expansion of trade among those countries.

Free trade provides more choices at better prices, Mr Bush said, adding that the time for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is now.

Dealing with drugs

Mr Bush made pointed remarks about the drug trade between American nations. "The US is responsible to fight demand within our own borders," he said.

He added that the US would work with other countries "within their democratic institutions" to fight the source of drugs.


La libertad no es negociable - liberty is not negotiable

President Bush
Mr Bush also announced several initiatives that he believes would help nations in the Western Hemisphere in their pursuit of liberty.

One such programme, called the Government Fellows programme, would export American talent that would help develop democratic institutions in developing nations.

Another, called the Latin America E-Business Development programme, would allow students to come to the US to work at American corporations to witness first-hand how technology is used in corporate settings.

Mr Bush also outlined his commitments, which include the environment and education and called for the establishment of hemispheric centres for teacher excellence.

He called on leaders meeting at the summit to use the three-day summit as a way to build freedom and secure prosperity for the people of their nations.

"This in not the time to grow timid or weary," Mr Bush said. "The blessings of liberty must be extended to every life."

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21 Apr 01 | Americas
In pictures: Quebec clashes
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