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Pacific Rim Leaders Unite Against Terror

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2002 – President Bush and other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders attending an Oct. 26- 27 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia, the Philippines and Moscow and pledged to accelerate counterterrorism cooperation.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the group that the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan successfully ousted the Taliban regime and destroyed al Qaeda there, but that al Qaeda's network continues to function. He called on APEC members to redouble efforts to go after terrorists' finances, to use law enforcement efforts to locate them, to use intelligence systems to find them and learn where they're going to strike next.

"Nobody is immune," Powell said. "This is a war against all of us. Every nation represented here, every business represented here, every leader represented here is a potential target of terrorist activity of the kind perpetrated by al Qaeda."

APEC leaders issued a "Statement on Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth," declaring "terrorism is a direct challenge to APEC's goals of free, open and prosperous economies and an affront to the fundamental values that APEC members share."

"The recent terrorist bombing in Bali, Indonesia, carried out on Oct. 12, 2002, reminds us of terrorism's brutality and the global imperative to oppose and fight this threat wherever it may be found," the leaders said. "We condemn this mass slaughter of the innocent, many of whom were Indonesian and Australian citizens, and offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims and their families."

The leaders reaffirmed their statement on counterterrorism adopted in Shanghai, China, Oct. 21, 2001, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States. In last year's statement, the group acknowledged the need to immediately combat by all means, threats to international peace, security and economic sustainability of the region caused by terrorist acts.

This year, APEC leaders agreed to work jointly to deny terrorists access to the world's financial system and use the money trail to locate and apprehend terrorists. They also agreed to take action to introduce more effective baggage screening in airports in the region, improve coordination among immigration officials, implement new cybersecurity standards, to address disruptions in energy markets, and enhance anti-piracy cooperation.

The 21 APEC economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. They account for 60 percent of global gross domestic product, one-quarter of the world's Muslim population, 21 of the world's top seaports, and 23 of the world's busiest airports, according to U.S. State Department officials.

State Department officials said APEC is America's primary vehicle for advancing economic cooperation and trade and investment liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region.

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