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Bush to Focus on Trade, Terrorism on Asia Trip


President Bush is heading to Asia this week to discuss trade and terrorism with other Pacific rim leaders. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House his travels will take him to Singapore, Indonesia and the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam.

This will be the president's second trip to Singapore and Indonesia and his first visit to Vietnam.

White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley says Mr. Bush will have a full agenda.

"The trip to Asia will allow the president to advance the interests of the American people by both partnering with Asian nations to tackle challenges that face us, like terrorism and disease, and by ensuring that American workers and businesses are able to reap the benefits of one of the world's most economically vibrant regions," he said.

Following a long flight and a refueling stop in Moscow, where he will meet briefly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Bush will arrive Thursday in Singapore. Hadley says while in Singapore, the president will deliver a speech designed to set the tone for his entire trip - highlighting the ways in which the United States and Asian countries can work together to face tough challenges.

"This is a story both of the United States working with Asia in addressing these issues regionally in Asia, but increasingly it is a story of the United States and Asian partners working together to address these issues on a global basis," he said. "He will lay out his vision for building a hopeful, peaceful set of societies in Asia that can meet these various challenges."

The White House national security adviser says in Vietnam, both at the APEC summit and in his official meetings with Vietnamese officials, Mr. Bush will talk about economic challenges and the dynamics of change. This visit comes just days after Vietnam learned it would be admitted to the World Trade Organization, and the president is expected to emphasize the need for greater economic reforms and trade liberalization.

Hadley says APEC leaders meeting on the sidelines of the summit are also likely to discuss regional security issues - most notably, North Korea's nuclear ambitions. And he leaves no doubt the president will bring up the terrorist threat.

"The president will seek to reaffirm the centrality of the freedom agenda in Asia, continue to encourage efforts in the war on terror, and communicate his vision for smart development based on the Millennium Challenge principles of good governance, investment in people, and economic freedom," he said.

Security is expected to be tight during the president's trip, particularly in Indonesia. On Saturday, a bomb exploded at an American fast food restaurant in Jakarta, injuring one person. When asked about the incident, White House officials said only that the president was invited by the government of Indonesia and the visit would not be canceled.

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