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APEC Takes Up Terrorism, Economic Troubles At Shanghai Summit - 2001-10-20


Economic troubles and terrorism are both on the agenda at the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that officially opened Saturday in Shanghai. Some of APEC's 21 members are forming new alliances to cope with the renewed challenge posed by terrorists. But others are bickering over disputes that date back decades.

The leaders arrived at the ornate, modern convention center on Shanghai's riverfront and emerged one at a time from a line of sleek black cars.

Each president or prime minister was greeted by China's Jiang Zemin with a smile, a handshake, and a brief chance to pose for waiting television and newspaper photographers.

Chinese Vice Minister Wang Guangya later told reporters the leaders agree "in general" that a new round of global trade talks should be launched to help cope with the world wide economic slow down.

He also said they endorsed a joint statement condemning terrorism and strengthening international cooperation. Mr. Wang said the leaders said under "the present difficult circumstances" it is important for leaders of APEC's incredibly diverse nations to stand together. "Through this the APEC leaders' meeting could demonstrate to the world that they are united against any possible terrorist attacks, and also they are united in the face of the economic difficulties," said Mr. Wang.

President Bush emerged from an earlier meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, saying the two nations are standing "side by side" against terror, although Mr. Jiang cautioned the Americans to avoid hurting innocent people in military strikes.

Saturday, Malaysia's leader, Mahathir Mohamad, who heads a mostly Muslim nation, also expressed concern about civilian deaths and injuries in the U.S.-led strikes on mostly Muslim Afghanistan. President Bush told him Pentagon planners do everything they can to avoid hitting innocent people.

Sunday, Mr. Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has expressed strong support for the U.S. war on terrorism. But Washington and Moscow have disagreements over other issues, including a U.S. proposal to build missile defenses.

The leaders spent Saturday evening at an elaborate banquet and were entertained by a fireworks display. Sunday they gather again for final talks.

One APEC member, Taiwan, will be missing. The island's representatives boycotted the summit in a dispute with their Chinese hosts over who could head their delegation. Taiwan split politically from China after civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers it a rebellious province that should be brought back under central government control, by force if necessary. China rejected Taiwan's requests to have its president or a former vice president represent the prosperous island at the APEC talks.