President Bush says China stands with the United States in the war on terrorism. But Chinese President Jiang Zemin is urging America to exercise caution as it attacks Taleban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
The comments came after the first face-to-face meeting between the two men. They conferred for almost two hours in Shanghai on the eve of the Pacific Rim summit.
President Bush said they focused on terrorism, noting China and the United States share a common understanding of the terrorist threat. "All civilized nations must come together to defeat this threat," he said. "And I believe that the United States and China can accomplish a lot when we work together to fight terrorism."
Mr. Bush noted the Chinese government responded quickly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. "There was no hesitation, there was no doubt that they would stand by the United States and our people during this terrible time," he said. "There is a firm commitment by this government to cooperate in intelligence matters, to help interdict financing of terrorist organizations." President Jiang said during their talks, he underscored China's opposition to terrorism "of all forms." But, speaking through an interpreter, he offered words of caution to Mr. Bush. "We hope that anti-terrorism efforts can have clearly defined targets," he said. "And efforts should hit accurately, and also avoid innocent casualties."
Overall, the two leaders focused their public comments on areas of agreement. They said they are aiming for better relations, though President Bush acknowledged they will not always see eye-to-eye.
"Two great nations will rarely agree on everything; I understand that," he said. "But I assured the President we will always deal with out differences in a spirit of mutual respect."
Mr. Bush said he left the United States at a very difficult time, a time when the American military is in action, and an anthrax scare is making headlines. He was asked once again by reporters if he thinks there is a link between the appearance of letters containing anthrax and Osama bin Laden, the prime U.S. suspect in the September 11th attacks.
"I don't have knowledge of a direct link of the anthrax incidents to the enemy," he said. "But I wouldn't put it past them. These are evil people and the deeds that have been conducted on the American people are evil deeds."
The President reaffirmed that America will use whatever means are necessary to win the war on terrorism. But he refused to say if elite U.S. ground troops have been sent into Afghanistan. Mr. Bush said he would not respond to rumors, and would not comment on military operations.