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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 16, 2002

Joint Statement Between the United States of America and Negara Brunei Darussalam

President Bush and His Majesty, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, today pledged to reinforce the friendship between the peoples of the United States and of Brunei Darussalam, and to pursue our common interests of peace, prosperity, and stability in Southeast Asia.

The two leaders recommitted themselves to the global war on terror, declaring terrorism a threat to all civilized societies and the exploitation of religion to promote violence an abomination. President Bush and His Majesty reiterated the importance of strengthening international cooperation in combating terrorism in a comprehensive manner and affirmed the importance of working with multilateral institutions, including the United Nations. The two leaders also recognized the importance of promoting tolerance and understanding amongst the diverse cultures, societies, and religions.

The President praised Brunei Darussalam's long tradition of religious tolerance and cooperation with its neighbors, friends, and partners. In the wake of the tragic Bali bombings, the President and His Majesty agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation to identify and destroy terrorist networks; exchange information and intelligence about terrorists and terrorist organizations; disrupt the movement of terrorists and the tools of terror across international borders; and cut off sources of funding for terrorist acts, especially in Southeast Asia. His Majesty welcomed President Bush's offer to assist Brunei Darussalam in building its capacity to counter terrorism.

The President welcomed the recent accession of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yand Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The President and His Majesty also look forward to cooperating with other ASEAN partners in supporting the proposed regional counterterrorism center in Malaysia.

President Bush expressed appreciation for Brunei Darussalam's contribution toward the humanitarian relief efforts and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Such contributions demonstrate the compassion of the Government and people of Brunei in its commitment to build a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan.

The President and His Majesty welcomed the growing, mutually beneficial bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Brunei Darussalam, and reaffirmed their desire to see such cooperation increase.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of a strong and united ASEAN, and President Bush offered all appropriate assistance to support capacity-building within ASEAN. President Bush praised Brunei Darussalam's strong leadership role in ASEAN in recent years, and reaffirmed our commitment to expand U.S. engagement with ASEAN as a pillar of stability in Southeast Asia. The two leaders agreed on the importance of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and APEC in promoting regional stability and prosperity. The President welcomed Brunei Darussalam's support for our Secure Trade in the APEC Region, or "STAR," initiative, aimed at transforming the movement of goods and people to increase both security and economic competitiveness. The President pledged to work with the Government of Brunei Darussalam to assist Brunei Darussalam in building its own capacity to provide increased border and customs security and efficiency.

His Majesty welcomed President Bush's Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative, or "EAI," as an initiative designed to promote increased investment, economic growth, and free trade between the United States and ASEAN countries. The President and His Majesty welcomed the signing of a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). This TIFA will provide the foundation for increased trade and economic cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and the United States as both economies adapt to the economic challenges of the 21st century. The two sides agreed to coordinate their efforts bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally, including working together to complete successfully the Doha Development Agenda.

To further deepen understanding between our two nations, the President and His Majesty have pledged to increase educational opportunities for Bruneian students, government officials, and other professionals to study and train in the United States. Toward this end, the President announced the establishment of a Fulbright Program in Brunei.

The President and His Majesty also reiterated their mutual commitment to advance the rule of law and to promote respect for human rights, including freedom of religion, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and cherished by the people of both the United States and Brunei Darussalam.

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