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Remarks by the President to the APEC Business Summit

Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580

SYDNEY, Australia, Sept. 6  /Christian Newswire/ -- The following text is of remarks by President Bush to the APEC Business Summit as prepared for delivery:

It is a pleasure to be back in Australia, and I am grateful to the people of Sydney for their gracious hospitality.  Yesterday, I visited the Australian National Maritime Museum, which houses the bell from a great American Naval vessel, the USS Canberra.  This is the only American ship ever commissioned in tribute to an ally's warship lost in battle.  It was named by President Franklin Roosevelt to honor the men who gave their lives aboard the Australian ship Canberra, which was lost during the Second World War. 

The bell is a powerful symbol of the enduring ties that bind our two nations.  And I was proud to present it to Prime Minister Howard when he came to Washington to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty.  The ceremony took place on September the 10th, 2001.  As we stood together that morning, the Prime Minister and I could never have imagined that in less than 24 hours, America would come under attack, the ANZUS Treaty would soon be invoked for the first time, and in a matter of weeks, Australian and American troops would once again be fighting side-by-side in a global war to defend our freedom and way of life.

Australia's response after the Nine Eleven attacks was swift and resolute – and this came as no surprise to the American people.  Our two nations have fought together in every major conflict of the past century.  Australian diggers have served alongside American GIs from the hilltops of France and islands of the Pacific to the mountains of Central Asia and the deserts of the Middle East.  American troops are honored to fight beside such dedicated and courageous allies, and the American people are proud to call Australia a partner in the cause of peace and a brother in the cause of freedom. 

It says something that one of my Nation's closest allies in the world is also the farthest from our shores.  The United States and Australia are separated by geography but united by common values.  We share a firm belief in democracy, free enterprise, and the universal appeal of liberty.  Our two nations are also united by common interests.  We seek an Asia Pacific region that is growing in freedom, prosperity, and peace.  And we are determined to help this region become a place of hope and opportunity where every man, woman, and child has a chance to achieve their God-given potential, and build a better life.

America's commitment to the Asia Pacific region was forged in war and sealed in peace.  I recently spoke to the members of a great American organization, the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  In the audience that day were citizens of my country who fought for freedom on this side of the Pacific.  Their courage spared millions from tyranny and laid the foundation for peace and America's enduring presence in this region. 

Today, our alliances with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines and our defense relationships with Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, and others in the region form the bedrock of America’s engagement in the Asia Pacific.  These security relationships have helped keep the peace in this vital part of the world.  And they have created conditions that have allowed freedom to expand, markets to grow, commerce to flow, and young democracies to gain in confidence and prosperity.  America is committed to the security of the Asia Pacific region, and that commitment is unshakable.

The expansion of freedom and democracy in the Asia Pacific region is one of the great stories of our time.  At the end of World War Two, Australia and New Zealand were the only democracies on this side of the Pacific.  Since then, we have witnessed Japan’s transformation into a thriving free society, the triumph of democracy in the Philippines, democratic transitions in Taiwan, South Korea, and Indonesia, and the birth of a new democratic nation in East Timor.  The growth of free societies in this part of the world has unleashed the talent and creativity of millions, and they are using their freedom to build a dynamic and hopeful Asia Pacific region.

Our challenge is to strengthen the forces of freedom and prosperity in this region. One of the most important ways we can do so is through the expansion of trade and investment.  Today, APEC economies account for nearly half of all international trade.  The total trade in goods by APEC countries has grown by 300 percent since 1990.  Trade in services has grown by 200 percent over that same period, and the flow of foreign investment into this region has grown by 400 percent. 

The expansion of trade and investment creates jobs and opportunity for people on this side of the Pacific, and it opens new markets for American workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs.  It is in America's national interest to liberalize trade and investment at every level – globally, regionally, and with individual nations. 

We believe that the best way to open markets is through the Doha round of trade negotiations.  Doha represents a once-in-a-generation chance to open markets and help millions rise from poverty.  The United States is committed to seizing this opportunity – and we need partners in this region to help lead the effort.  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.  As negotiations resume in Geneva, leaders in every country have to make tough decisions to reduce barriers to trade – and we must focus on what we have to gain, not what we could to lose.  The United States has both the will and the flexibility to help conclude a successful Doha Round, and we urge our APEC partners to join us in this vital effort.

As we work to liberalize trade and investment through Doha, the United States also supports the vision of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.  This would be a free trade area that incorporates all APEC economies and reduces barriers to trade and investment across the entire Asia Pacific region.  And as we work to make this vision a reality, my country is also building deeper ties of trade with individual nations across this region.  Today, the United States has free trade agreements in place with Australia, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Chile, and recently we concluded free trade agreements with two more APEC countries: South Korea and Peru.  I will work with the United States Congress to secure approval of these new agreements. 

I urge the business leaders gathered here to help educate people in your communities and workplaces about the benefits of global trade.  You understand that the surest road to stagnation and instability is the path of isolation and protectionism. And the only road to enduring prosperity and stability is through open markets and open trade.

As we work to expand trade and investment, we must also address the challenges of energy security and global climate change.  We need to harness the power of technology to help nations meet their growing energy needs in ways that improve our environment – and without harming their economies or the livelihoods of their people. 

Under Prime Minister Howard’s leadership, APEC is holding its first major discussions on a practical set of priorities for cooperation on energy security, clean development, and climate change.  And we agree that these issues must be addressed in an integrated way.  The work we do here at APEC will make an important contribution to the global discussions in the UN about a new framework on energy security and climate change.  Later this month, the United States will convene a series of meetings of the nations that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.  We will work to reach agreement by next year on a detailed plan for future action. 

Since I became President, the United States has invested $12 billion in government-sponsored research in energy technology.  The private sector has responded through the venture capital markets.  And as a result of our efforts, last year the United States grew our economy and reduced greenhouse gasses at the same time.  More breakthroughs will come through the ingenuity and investment of business here in the APEC region.

As the countries of this region work to expand prosperity and address important challenges like energy security and climate change, we are also working to protect our citizens from the threats and challenges that have emerged in this new century.  Today, our nations are standing side by side in the great ideological struggle of our time – the global war on terror.  In this struggle, the forces of moderation and reasonableness are contending with the forces of radicalism, extremism, and fear.  In this new kind of war, the extremists use murder to spread an ideology of hatred and repression – and we must stop them.  The nations of the Asia Pacific understand the threat, because you have experienced terrorist violence in your cities and on your streets.  Violent Islamic extremists have killed the innocent in Bali, Jakarta, Manila, and other cities.  The leaders of al Qaida have issued threats against Australia, Japan, and South Korea.  And for each attack terrorists and extremists have carried out in this part of the world, many others have been foiled, in places such as Singapore, Manila, Melbourne, and Sydney.

The fight against the terrorists in this region is one of the untold success stories of the war on terror, and the rest of the world has a lot to learn from the approach to terrorism taken in this region.

The two most dangerous terrorist networks in this region are a group called Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, and a Filipino terrorist group called Abu Sayyaf.  Both of these groups have been associated with al Qaida – the terrorist network that attacked my country on September the 11th, 2001.  JI terrorists have trained in al Qaida’s camps in Afghanistan, and al Qaida senior leaders have provided JI with significant funds – money that helped fund the 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub, the 2003 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, and the 2004 bombing of Australia’s embassy in Indonesia.  A senior JI leader and al Qaida associate named Hambali also worked with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on an al Qaida plot to hijack an airplane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.  This plot was foiled with the help of governments in this region, saving countless innocent lives in America.

The other terrorist network is Abu Sayyaf.  This group has received funding from Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and other Middle Eastern terrorist financiers.  Abu Sayyaf was behind the 2001 kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in the Philippines, one of whom they beheaded.  They conducted a bombing in Zamboanga City that killed an American soldier and two Filipinos.  And Abu Sayyaf was behind the worst terrorist attack in the history of the Philippines – the 2004 bombing of a Manila ferry that killed more than 100 people.

Nations in the Asia Pacific understand the threat posed by extremist groups like JI and Abu Sayyaf – and together we have followed a clear strategy to defeat them: 

First, nations in the Asia Pacific have arrested and killed key leaders and operatives of these networks.  In 2003, Hambali was captured, severing the main link between JI and al Qaida.  And just a few months ago, Indonesian forces tracked down and captured JI's acting emir and JI’s top military commander.  In the Philippines, that country's military forces recently launched a campaign called Operation Ultimatum that is aggressively targeting Abu Sayyaf leaders.  In this operation they killed Abu Sayyaf's top leader, and then they found and killed his closest advisor and confidant.  Because of these and other operations, the terrorists are on the run – and we must not let up the pressure.

Second, nations in the Asia Pacific are providing economic assistance to struggling communities where the terrorists operate – so we can strengthen moderate leaders and give citizens in these communities alternatives to the path of radicalism and violence.  For example, in Indonesia the government is working with the United States to implement a $157 million initiative to improve basic education in 1,500 public and private schools.  When the tsunami hit this region in 2004, the United States and other nations provided relief to devastated communities in Indonesia and other nations – and sent a message that shows we care about the human condition. In the Philippines, the government has worked with international donors to deliver aid to Muslim communities in the Southern Philippines that the terrorists have exploited – building roads, bridges, schools, and health clinics, and providing micro-credit to help local entrepreneurs.  This assistance is helping to isolate the terrorists and extremists and encouraging the local population to join in the fight against them. 

Third, nations in the Asia Pacific are increasing regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  Malaysia and the United States have established a regional counter-terrorism training center in Kuala Lumpur, and law enforcement training centers in Jakarta and Bangkok are improving the capabilities of security forces from across the region.  Last year, ASEAN nations concluded a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that will improve the sharing of evidence in terrorist investigations.  And in March, foreign ministers from across the region held a counter-terrorism conference in Jakarta, where they discussed ways they can improve cooperation in the battle against terror. 

Fourth, nations in the Asia Pacific are working to defeat the terrorists' hateful ideology.  Prime Minister Lee of Singapore says "the fight against terrorism is a long-term ideological struggle."  He is right.  We must bring the terrorists to justice, and to prevail in this struggle, we must also defeat them in the battle of ideas.  Our enemies are followers of a violent and narrow ideology, a political vision that despises freedom, rejects tolerance, and crushes all dissent.  Their goal is to impose this ideology on millions across the world.  For there to be peace, we must promote an alternative vision of human dignity and human liberty – a hopeful vision far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder.  And that is precisely what leaders across the Asia Pacific region are doing. 

In Indonesia, President Yudhoyono hosted an interfaith dialogue soon after taking office where he called on his fellow citizens to ensure that "the forces of light, reason, and hope overpower the forces of darkness, despair, and violence."  The head of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Dr. Hasyim Muzadi, was one of the first Muslim leaders to visit Ground Zero in New York.  He puts it this way:  "There is no violence, cruelty, chaos, and viciousness on behalf of religion, including Islam." 

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Badawi is working to promote what he calls "Islam Hadhari" – or "Civilizational Islam" – and he has called on his fellow Malaysians to "show by example that a Muslim country can be modern, democratic, tolerant, and economically competitive." 

In the Philippines, President Arroyo has reached out to Muslim leaders and has called Filipinos to oppose "terrorists who kill, bomb, and maim to enforce an ideology of evil."  And a group of leading Filipino Islamic jurists issued a joint sermon declaring "Islam and terrorism stand on the opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Murder and the killing of innocent civilians in warfare is strictly forbidden."

These and other efforts are making a difference.  The vast majority of citizens in this region reject the extremists, oppose their violent tactics, and support democracy – and the United States will actively support the forces of moderation.  Freedom has transformed this region – but there is more work to be done.  We must work for the day when the people of North Korea enjoy the same freedoms as the citizens of their democratic neighbors.  We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting, harassing, and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations.  The Burmese regime must release these activists immediately, stop its intimidation of those Burmese citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights, and release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

We will continue working with nations like Russia to advance our shared interests in the world – while encouraging Russia's leaders to respect the checks and balances that are essential to democracy.  We will encourage China to open up its political system and give greater voice to its people.  As our relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold War prove, it is possible to maintain friendships and push toward democracy at the same time.  Next year, China will host the Olympic Games, and it will be a moment of pride for the Chinese people.  It will also be a moment when the eyes of the entire world will fall on Beijing.  We urge China's leaders to use this moment to show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance.  And we look forward to free and fair elections in Thailand.

Many APEC countries are supporting the advance of freedom in this region.  Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore helped lead the effort to include democratic and human rights principles in the ASEAN Charter, Japan has incorporated democracy and governance programs into its official development assistance, and South Korea hosted an historic gathering of the world’s free nations, the Community of Democracies summit.  These are important steps – and now we must build on them by forging new regional institutions to encourage the continued expansion of freedom in this vital part of the world.  So this week, the United States is proposing the creation of a new Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership.  Through this partnership, free nations will work together to support democratic values, strengthen democratic institutions, and assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the Asia Pacific region. 

The lesson of freedom's advance in the Asia-Pacific region is that the desire for liberty is universal, written by our Creator into the heart of every man, woman, and child on this earth.  Whenever they are given the chance, people of every culture and religion choose freedom and democracy.  In Asia, millions have been given this chance, and they have built free societies that are sources of peace and prosperity for the entire world.  Now we must give that same chance to millions across the broader Middle East, who share the same desire for freedom that burns in the hearts of people in this region.

I thank the APEC nations who are standing with young democracies in the Middle East that are under assault by terrorists and violent extremists.  In Afghanistan, forces from Australia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and Singapore are helping the Afghan people build a free nation and stop the Taliban and al Qaida from returning.  In Lebanon, forces from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and China are serving as part of the United Nations force that is helping bring stability to a free nation threatened by radical regimes and terrorist violence.  And in Iraq, personnel from Australia, Japan, and South Korea are helping Iraq's democratically elected government rebuild from the rubble of tyranny and stop al Qaida from turning that country into a terrorist safe haven. 

On my way to this week's summit, I stopped in Iraq's Anbar Province.  Last year, Anbar was an al Qaida stronghold and one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.  Al Qaida terrorized the province, using torture and murder to keep the local population in line.  Then, Sunnis who had fought with al Qaida against Coalition troops turned on the terrorists, and began fighting with Coalition troops against al Qaida.  Together, Americans and Iraqis drove al Qaida from strongholds in the region.  And today, because of their sacrifice, Anbar is one of the safest places in Iraq – so safe that the President of the United States can drop in to thank the troops for their courage in the fight to protect us all. 

Our troops are now working to replicate the success in Anbar in other parts of the country.  By providing security, we are creating conditions that allow people to reconcile, and we are giving this young democracy the chance to survive and serve as an ally in the war against the extremists.  The success of these efforts is critical.  The enemy we are fighting in Anbar and other parts of Iraq swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden – the man who ordered the attack on my country and funded bombings in Bali and Jakarta that killed the citizens of more than 20 nations.  The outcome of the battle in Iraq matters to the security of the United States, it matters to the security of the Asia Pacific region, and it matters to the security of the civilized world.  And we owe a debt of gratitude to the troops of many nations who are risking their lives in Iraq to keep us safe.

Prime Minister Howard also visited Iraq this year.  He went to thank the Australian troops who are serving there with valor and distinction.  He saw firsthand the positive changes that are taking place on the ground – and he understands the consequences of failure in Iraq.  He says if we leave Iraq before the job is done "it would represent a devastating blow to the hopes of a stable future for the Middle East.  It would embolden the Iranians, it would unsettle and destabilize the more moderate elements amongst the Arab states in the region, and it would represent a monumental victory for the cause of international terrorism."  The Prime Minister says: "What Iraq and her people now need is time, not a timetable. They seek our patience, not political positioning. They require our resolve, not our retreat." 

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 – and when they do, people in this region and every corner of the world will be safer and more secure.

I have confidence in freedom's cause, because I know the character of the men and women throughout this region who are united in seeking a future of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.  And I am privileged to stand here, on Australian soil, and thank you for your commitment to the cause of liberty – and sacrifices in the cause of peace.  God bless you all.