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Bush: Terrorism War May Take More Than 2 Years - 2001-10-17

President Bush says the war on terrorism may take more than two years. Mr. Bush left for China Wednesday where he hopes to build more support for the international coalition against suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and the Taleban leadership in Afghanistan.

The president told reporters he knows people will get tired of the war on terrorism but as long as "anybody's terrorizing established governments," he says "there needs to be a war." That conflict, he said, could take more than two years.

The president prepared for his Asia trip with interviews for reporters from Japan, South Korea, and China Tuesday. In a transcript of that session released by the White House Wednesday, the president said the war against terrorism in Afghanistan itself may be shorter than two years, but with so many theaters of action, he envisions the entire campaign make take longer.

Mr. Bush warned North Korea not to try to take advantage of the war on terrorism by moving against U.S. ally South Korea. The president said, "North Korea should not in any way, shape or form think that because we happened to be engaged in Afghanistan, we will not be prepared and ready to fulfill our end of our agreement" with South Korea.

Mr. Bush said he is looking forward to his first face to face meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, where they will discuss trade, arms proliferation and human rights. Mr. Bush said there is a wide range of issues to discuss with China but he is certain that discussion will be in the spirit of a desire to have good, close relations.

President Bush said it is important to share information in this new war against terrorism. "If we hear or see there is a threat to Japan or China or South Korea," he said, "we will share that information so that each of us can protect our own homeland."

The president's trip to the 21 nation summit of Asian-Pacific leaders in Shanghai is his first outside the country since the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said he is leaving America at a difficult time, following the appearance of a string of letters laced with the deadly anthrax bacteria.

But he said it is important to go to Asia not only to discuss economic and bilateral interests, but to continue to talk about the war on terrorism and how allies can help. The summit is expected to issue a statement condemning terrorism without mentioning Mr. bin Laden or U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.

A draft document calls last month's attacks in New York and Washington "profound threats to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of all faiths, of every nation." It says regional leaders will "strive to prevent and suppress terrorist acts in the future" by supporting all efforts to strengthen an "international anti-terrorist regime."

U.S. officials say that includes cutting-off terrorist financing and coordinating aviation security. At the summit, Mr. Bush will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the leaders of Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Peru, Brunei and Singapore.