The meeting of 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation nations is supposed to be about trade and economic issues. But this gathering has been overshadowed by the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and much of the discussion looks at the impact of that terrorist attack on the world economy. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has welcomed the spreading support for the U.S. led war on terrorism.
APEC member nations have expressed concern about how long the U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan will continue. But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the military campaign is just one element of the war on terrorism. "I had the opportunity to explain to my colleagues that military campaign was just only one part of a much, much more broader effort that includes financial controls, intelligence activity, legal activity, political and diplomatic activity," he said.
The military campaign, he said, is aimed at eradicating terrorist bases inside Afghanistan that the United States believes are used to launch attacks around the world. Mr. Powell said the strikes are also punishing the Taleban government for not handing over Osama bin Laden, a prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. "The military campaign is necessary to root out the terrorists in Afghanistan and also to separate them from the regime and punish the regime for harboring terrorism," he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Powell told a group of U.S. business executives that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida must be stopped. "They didn't come to Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan," he said. "They didn't come to Afghanistan so they could bring money to Afghanistan, and then use that money to help impoverished Muslims in other parts of the world. They came to Afghanistan for one single purpose, to invade that country, be a foreign presence, a hostile presence in Afghanistan so they conduct terrorist activities around the world and it's got to be stopped. The military campaign will be pursued until we do that."
The 21 APEC leaders will issue a statement of support for the war on terrorism at their summit beginning Saturday.