U.S. President George Bush says the nations of the world must band
together to combat the global financial crisis. And he is pushing free
markets and free trade as the key to an international economic
recovery. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports the
comments came in a speech to business leaders in Lima, Peru, just prior
to the start of the annual Pacific Rim summit.
President Bush is
urging countries to band together in the face of this economic
crisis. He says the worst thing they can do is turn inward.
says industrialized and developing nations all have a stake in healing
the world's economic ills. "Nations are feeling the painful effects of
the economic crisis. I understand that, and so all of us need to be
involved in the solution," he said.
Mr. Bush says he will urge
the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to join the
effort, noting that the participants account for more than 50 percent
of the world economy.
"We are witnessing a dramatic shift of
history as the center of the world economic stage moves from West to
East, from the Atlantic to the Pacific," he said. "Some view the rise
of the Asia Pacific [region] with suspicion and fear. America doesn't."
president says continuing that engagement is even more important at a
time of economic strain. He points to the growth in the number of
free trade agreements signed since he took office, And he emphasizes
the need to push ahead with negotiations to complete a global free-trade agreement - the so-called Doha Round.
"I recognize I am
leaving office in two months," said President Bush. "But nevertheless,
this administration will push hard to put the modalities in place so
Doha can be completed and so we can send the message that we refuse to
accept protectionism in the 21st century."
This is likely to be Mr. Bush's last formal summit as president of the United States, and his final trip abroad.
he wrapped up his speech in Lima, he recalled his first APEC meeting.
It was held in Shanghai, China roughly two months after the September
11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Mr. Bush said then as now, in
the midst of a financial crisis, the nations of the Pacific Rim are
"The bonds of unity we felt then remain
today," he said. "And they will always remain. Long after this crisis
has passed, the United States of America will stay engaged in this
In addition to the formal APEC forum sessions,
President Bush is also meeting on the sidelines with other world
leaders. It is a chance for them to exchange farewells and best wishes
for the future. But White House officials stress Mr. Bush is going
into these talks with a full agenda - from discussions of North
Korea's nuclear program, to the dispute with Russia over U.S. plans to
build a missile defense system in Europe.