- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

SHANGHAI Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum yesterday condemned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in an unprecedented political statement, but stopped short of backing the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan.
The leaders condemned "the murderous deeds as well as other terrorist acts 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."
Later yesterday, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed significant cuts in nuclear weapons and the U.S. plan to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. But contrary to reports, Mr. Bush did not tell the Russian leader the United States would withdraw from the treaty by next summer, a senior Bush administration official said.
"We also made some progress," Mr. Putin said of the talks. "At least I believe we do have understanding that we can reach agreement taking into account the national interests of Russia and the United States and taking into account the necessity to strengthen international stability."
In its first political statement, the 21-nation APEC group, which stretches from Canada to Peru and from the United States to China, committed itself to freezing terrorist assets and strengthening security, and pledged to "prevent and suppress all forms of terrorist acts in the future."
"We condemn in the strongest terms the [Sept. 11] attack as an affront to peace, prosperity and the security of all people of all faiths, of every nation," Chinese President Jiang Zemin said. As host of the APEC summit, he read the "leaders' declaration."
The statement also called for the United Nations to take a prominent role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, acquiescing to calls from Russia and China for a stronger role in the campaign by the U.N. Security Council. Both nations have vetoes on votes in the council.
But the statement left unsaid precisely what the U.N. role would be.
"Leaders deem it imperative to strengthen international cooperation at all levels in combating terrorism in a comprehensive manner and affirm that [the] U.N. should play a major role in this regard, especially taking into account the importance of all relevant U.N. resolutions," the statement said.
Still, the statement said APEC would implement two U.N. resolutions passed last month, including one that condemned the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and recognized a country's right to defend itself under the body's charter for "individual or collective self-defense."
A senior administration official said the United States was satisfied with the statement, despite its lack of endorsement for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
"What we were looking for was what we got. We didn't need more from this group," the official said.
Mr. Bush praised the statement. "There was a very strong support for our activities strong support for sharing intelligence; strong support for the diplomatic front we're waging; strong support to disrupt the financial operations of the terrorists; and strong support for our military operations in Afghanistan.
"The people who came to this conference came because they wanted to show the world that they were not afraid of terrorists," Mr. Bush said.
The meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin their third in five months produced an agreement to cooperate more closely to stop weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons, from being used for terrorism.
In a joint statement, the two leaders pledged to increase cooperation to prevent the export and distribution of nuclear, chemical and biological materials.
"The presidents of the two countries are fully resolved to increase cooperation in the fight against new terrorist threats in the nuclear, chemical and biological fields, as well as in the field of computers," the statement said.
Mr. Bush reiterated his feelings that the Cold War-era ABM Treaty was outdated, and needed to be replaced because the United States and Russia were no longer adversaries. The president wants to withdraw from or amend the treaty, which forbids deployment of exactly the type of missile-defense shield that Mr. Bush envisions to protect the United States from attack by rogue nations, such as Iraq or North Korea.
The treaty allows for withdrawal by either party at six months' notice.
"The events of Sept. 11 make it clearer than ever that a Cold War ABM Treaty that prevents us from defending our people is outdated and I believe dangerous," Mr. Bush said in a joint press conference after the two leaders' meeting. "Both our nations must be able to defend ourselves against the new threats of the 21st century, including long-range ballistic missiles," he said.
Mr. Putin appears to be moving toward acceptance of changing the treaty or allowing the United States to withdraw. At an earlier meeting in Slovenia, the Russian leader called the treaty a "cornerstone" of international relations and global stability. Yesterday, he called it an "element."
Still, Mr. Putin said: "As for the ABM Treaty of 1972, our position is well known."
The two leaders will meet again in mid-November at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Mr. Putin also has invited Mr. Bush to his home in Moscow.
The APEC statement came at the conclusion of the summit. All the summit's leaders minus Taiwan, which boycotted the event stood behind the Chinese president as he read the statement in English. All wore traditional Chinese jackets in vivid blue and red.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide