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APEC Meeting Gets Under Way in Mexico

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other U.S. officials talked trade and terrorism Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, known as APEC, meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In ministerial APEC meetings and in a parallel meeting of corporate officers from Asian and Pacific nations, discussion centered on how to expand free trade and economic development in a world made ever more dangerous by terrorism. In the days leading up to this gathering on the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, there were bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines that have spread fear through much of southeast Asia.

Some business leaders worry that further violence could impede trade, tourism and economic development. They also concur with many government leaders in calling for more economic development to counter the lure of terrorists for disaffected people.

In a ministerial news conference, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said these are concerns that President Bush will likely address when he comes here on Saturday. "I believe President Bush will solicit the support of his fellow leaders here for our efforts against global terrorism and our efforts against weapons of mass destruction development, especially in the hands of rogue states," said Colin Powell. "But we are determined that forums such as this should not be exclusively devoted to a particular crisis of the day, but to the purpose for which APEC was created and that is to benefit all the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the effort to expand trade and promote economic development is, in fact, an important part in the anti-terrorism campaign. "While we do not believe that terrorism finds its roots in poverty, it finds its roots in a much deeper evil and, indeed if you look at the background of most terrorists, they tend to be middle class or above, but there is no doubt that countries that are struggling to maintain national cohesion and to offer economic prosperity become the breeding grounds," said Robert Zoellick.

The 21-nation APEC meeting will culminate in a summit meeting this weekend, in which President Bush is expected to endorse efforts to expand free trade in the Pacific Rim. He is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with several leaders to discuss a possible war with Iraq, terrorism and other topics.