By Gerry J. Gilmore
Terrorism is a common threat shared by the United States and Asian nations, President Bush said yesterday during his weekly radio address to the nation while on a trip to Asia. The primary focus of Bush's trip to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam is to increase American business and trade involvement in Asia, and to explore mutual efforts to pursue energy alternatives to fossil fuels and to combat disease. The president attended the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, hosted this year in Vietnam.
Besides economics, "Asia is important to America because we face common threats to our security," Bush asserted. "The people of this region understand the terrorist threat because they have been targets of terrorist violence."
Bush recalled that after the United States was attacked by terrorists on Sept., 11, 2001, terrorists targeted a tourist district in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 12, 2002, killing more than 200 people.
The Bali bombings killed 38 Indonesians, but the 164 other victims were foreigners, including citizens from Australia, Britain, America, and many other non-Indonesian countries.
Bush said the terrorists also targeted a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, a ferry filled with passengers in Manila Bay in the Philippines, a school packed with children in Russia, Australia's embassy in Indonesia, and many other targets.
"The killers who committed these acts of terror are followers of a clear and focused ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance - and their stated goal is a radical Islamic empire stretching from Europe to Southeast Asia," Bush pointed out.
The greatest danger facing the world today is for the terrorists to obtain weapons of mass destruction, Bush said. The terrorists would use those weapons to coerce democratic countries to bow to their aims, Bush explained, or simply employ them to kill people on a massive scale.
"This threat poses a risk to our entire civilization, and we're working with our partners in the Asia Pacific region to defeat it," Bush said.
Bush noted that he also discussed the North Korean nuclear weapons proliferation issue with senior Asia Pacific leaders. On Oct. 9, North Korea announced it had successfully tested a nuclear bomb, an act that violates international treaties and threatens to disrupt peace in the region.
The United States, Russia, Japan, China and South Korea are seeking to defuse the situation through six-way diplomatic talks with the North Koreans, Bush said.
"Our nations are speaking with one voice: North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons programs, and we will not tolerate North Korea's proliferation of nuclear technology to hostile regimes and terrorist networks," Bush declared.
The best path to achieving peace across the world is expanding freedom, Bush noted.
"History shows that free societies are peaceful societies, so America is committed to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternative to repression and radicalism," Bush said. "And by standing with our allies in the Asia Pacific region, we will defend our free way of life, confront the challenges of a new century, and build a more hopeful, peaceful, and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren."
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