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Bush, in Sydney, urges trade, climate talks

President George W. Bush on Friday urged Asia-Pacific nations to lead the way toward a worldwide trade agreement and a plan to combat global warming while also banding together against terrorism.
U.S. President W. Bush speaks  at the APEC meeting in Sydney
President Bush, speaking at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney, said nations across Asia have been victims of terrorism.Jason Reed / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

President George W. Bush on Friday urged Asia-Pacific nations to lead the way toward a worldwide trade agreement and a plan to combat global warming while also banding together against terrorism.

In a speech to business leaders, Bush prodded Russia and China to honor democratic principles and allow more freedoms. He appealed for international pressure against the military government in Myanmar to stop its crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the Southeast Asian nation.

The president added that North Koreans should share the same liberties that citizens of their democratic neighbors enjoy.

Bush spoke optimistically about the war in Iraq and urged other nations not to turn their backs on their country, according to text of his remarks that the White House released in advance.

"The calling of our time is to help people in the Middle East build free and hopeful societies that fight the terrorists instead of harboring them," Bush said. "And when they do, people in this region and every corner of the world will be safer and more secure."

Bush said nations across Asia have been victims of terrorism.

"The vast majority of citizens in this region reject the extremists, oppose their violent tactics and support democracy," Bush said. "and the United States will actively support the forces of moderation."

Speaking at annual forum in Sydney
Bush's speech came as Pacific Rim leaders gathered in Sydney for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a 21-nation group whose economies account for nearly half of all global trade. The president met on Thursday with China's President Ju Jintao; on Friday he was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bush and Hu, leaders of two of the world's worst polluting nations, both called on Thursday for greater international cooperation in tackling climate change without stifling economic growth. Bush repeated that theme in his speech Friday.

"Our challenge is to strengthen the forces of freedom and prosperity in this region," Bush said.

He said the best way to open markets was to achieve a breakthrough in global trade negotiations known in the economic world as the Doha round.

"The United States is committed to seizing this opportunity — and we need partners in this region to help lead the effort," Bush said. "No single country can make Doha a success, but it is possible for a handful of countries that are unwilling to make the necessary contributions to bring Doha to a halt."

Bush also asked the Asia-Pacific leaders for their cooperation on climate change and acknowledged the fears of some that the United States was trying to construct a successor to the Kyoto Protocol outside of international efforts already under way.

"We agree that these issues must be addressed in an integrated way," he said. "The work we do here at APEC will make an important contribution to the global discussions in the U.N. about a new framework on energy security and climate change."

The U.S. has called for a Sept. 27-28 conference in Washington of the 15 biggest polluters. And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a broader conference in New York on Sept. 24.

The high-level discussions at APEC could shape talks at a U.N. conference in December in Bali, Indonesia, that will start to chart a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The United States never ratified Kyoto, which requires 35 nations to cut emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Kyoto pact a hot topic
Bush has been criticized by environmentalists and others for his opposition to the 1997 Kyoto pact, and China has long been slammed for the huge amounts of greenhouse gases its power plants and industries pump into the atmosphere. The fact that neither China nor India, another major global polluter, were covered by Kyoto was one reason Bush has opposed it.

But both leaders seemed to be generally in agreement on the subject.

"We believe that the issue of climate change bears on the welfare of the whole humanity and sustainable development of the whole world," Hu told reporters after his meeting with Bush. "And this issue should be appropriately tackled through stronger international cooperation."

Climate control has been designated a top agenda item for this year's APEC meeting.

"We talked about climate change and our desire to work together on climate change," Bush said.

Bush has proposed eliminating tariffs on environmental and clean-energy technologies. In his talks with Hu, Bush invited the Chinese leader to consider doing the same, said Dan Price, a presidential economic adviser on the National Security Council.

Hu had suggested the United Nations should be the one to spearhead climate control efforts. Price said that wasn't necessarily contradictory with the Bush approach.

Bush said he accepted Hu's invitation to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics. And the two leaders talked about establishing a hot line like the longtime one between Washington and Moscow to alert each other to possible military situations that might seem threatening or be ambiguous.