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APEC Summit Ends with Pledges on Terror, Trade Talks


Leaders of the 21 nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have wound up a two-day summit in Thailand with a pledge to work harder to dismantle international terrorism and revive stalled world trade liberalization talks.

APEC leaders Tuesday issued a joint statement, read by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, pledging to join forces to dismantle regional terrorist networks.

"It is essential to strengthen our partnership," said the Thai leader, "not only to liberalize and facilitate literal trade and investment, but also to protect our people and societies against threats to their security."

The 21 Pacific Rim leaders also promised to coordinate efforts to block terror financing, to improve security at sea ports and to restrict the export of portable missiles that could be used to shoot down airplanes.

The statement did not specifically mention North Korea's announced plans to build nuclear weapons. Rather it called for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Leaders said they continue to support the six-nation talks on the issue organized by China.

APEC leaders said they would push for a resumption of the World Trade Organization talks that collapsed in Mexico last month. The talks collapsed in Mexico last month amid disputes between rich and poor nations.

Prime Minister Thaksin told reporters that the APEC leaders noted the concerns of less developed nations and agreed that economic development should be an important part of the trade liberalization talks.

"We urge political will and flexibility to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion," said Mr. Thaksin.

There were numerous bilateral meetings on the margins of the two-day summit that focused on free trade agreements. These are receiving greater attention as a result of the collapsed world trade talks.

Security was tight throughout the meeting and demonstrations by APEC critics were discouraged by the Thai government.

The Asia Forum civic rights group Tuesday protested the exclusion of civil society from the summit saying it sets a poor example for human rights in the region. The group also urged governments to recognize the importance of human security as they seek to bolster state security.