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Pacific Rim Leaders Gather For Annual Summit

Pacific Rim leaders are gathering in Lima, Peru for their annual economic summit, a meeting made even more important by the current global financial crisis. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports from the Peruvian capital that this is expected to be George Bush's final trip abroad as President of the United States.

The president says this summit comes at a time of serious turmoil in the global economy. He says it is also a time of unprecedented cooperation.

In his weekly radio address, released early to coincide with his arrival in Peru, Mr. Bush speaks of the progress made last weekend at the Washington summit of the world's 20 largest economies.

He talks about the need to spur economic growth, and says the three great forces that drive this growth are free markets, free trade and free people. "No region of the world demonstrates the power of these forces more vividly than the Asia Pacific. Free markets have helped millions lift themselves out of poverty. Free trade has helped small nations turn themselves into global economic powers. And as more people in the Asia Pacific are free to develop their talents and pursue their ambitions, the whole region has grown in prosperity," he said.

Here in Lima, Mr. Bush will urge the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, for short, to endorse the stand taken at the Washington summit.

His focus on free trade has already won the endorsement of Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Mr. Garcia spoke Friday at a meeting of business executives held in conjunction with the APEC forum. He said the Peruvian people know that through world markets, and through alliances with other companies and countries around the world, they have an open road to well-being, growth and employment.

Chinese President Hu Jintao also addressed the gathering of business leaders. Later, he held one-on-one talks with President Bush.

They made no public statements. But White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says they discussed the global economic situation, with President Bush raising the issue of increased market access.

Perino says they also discussed the status of negotiations on North Korea's nuclear ambitions. And she says Mr. Bush urged the Chinese government to continue its dialogue with Tibet's exiled religious leader, the Dalai Lama.

The White House spokeswoman says overall it was a good session. And she says President Bush acknowledged that he felt a little nostalgic as he began his last meeting with Hu Jintao as heads of state.