Pacific rim leaders meeting in Shanghai say they will act together against all forms of terrorism anywhere in the world. The vow of greater cooperation came in a joint declaration issued at the end of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Leaders of the 21-member group also reaffirmed a commitment to free trade and investment as a way to boost the world out of its current economic slump.
Terrorist attacks on the United States dominated the discussions here, as leaders sought ways to prevent new incidents and cope with the human, political, and economic impact of the September assaults on New York and the Pentagon.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin, host of the APEC meeting, spoke for all the leaders, saying "we condemn, in the strongest terms, the attack as an affront to peace, prosperity, and the security of all people, of all faiths, of every nation. "We vowed to strengthen our cooperation at the United Nations, and other organizations like APEC to mitigate the impact our economies. And to prevent and stop future terrorist acts in any form, anywhere in the world," said President Jiang.
However, the declaration does not specifically support the ongoing U.S. military strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
President Jiang and leaders from APEC nations that are predominately Muslim have urged the United States to avoid hurting civilians in the retaliatory attacks aimed at Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, which is blamed for the deadly attacks against the United States.
APEC has never before taken a strong stand on a political issue like terrorism, because the organization operates by consensus and focuses on economic matters.
But President Jiang says the stand against terrorism is appropriate, even for a economic organization like APEC, because the September 11 attacks made an already "grave economic situation, worse."
The leaders said APEC's long sought goals of freer international trade and investment are the antidote for economic problems in the Asia Pacific region. "We reaffirm our unyielding commitment to free and open trade and investment, both within our region and globally. And have resolved to work together to fight against protectionism in all forms," said the Chinese leader.
President Jiang also said care needs to be taken to see that the benefits of growing trade are shared with a larger number of people.
Among APEC's 21 member economies, Singapore is suffering its worst economic troubles in decades, while the once-strong economies in Hong Kong and Japan are on the brink of recession.
APEC leaders called for the World Trade Organization to launch a new round of trade talks in November.