|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 7, 2007
President Bush Attends APEC Business Summit
Sydney Opera House
9:05 A.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning -- or should I say g'day. (Laughter.) Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit. I appreciate -- APEC summit. (Laughter.) He invited me to the OPEC summit next year. (Laughter.) The APEC summit. I appreciate your friendship. I appreciate your leadership. They refer to the Prime Minister around here as a battler. I know why. He's courageous, he's wise, he's determined. America could ask for no better friend and more steadfast ally than Prime Minister John Howard. (Applause.)
I appreciate being back here in Australia, and I thank the people of Sydney for their gracious hospitality. The Prime Minister kept bragging about how beautiful Sydney is, and he's right. It's really a beautiful city, Mr. Prime Minister.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the Australian National Maritime Museum, which houses the bell from a great American Naval vessel called the USS Canberra. This is the only American ship ever commissioned in tribute to an ally's warship lost in battle. It was named by President Franklin Roosevelt to honor the men who gave their lives aboard the Australian ship Canberra, which was lost during the second world war. The bell is a powerful symbol of the enduring ties that bind our two nations. And I was proud to present it to Prime Minister Howard when he came to Washington to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty.
The ceremony took place on September the 10th, 2001. And as we stood together that morning I know that I could never have imagined, I suspect the Prime Minister never could have imagined that in less than 24 hours, the United States of America would come under attack, and that the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked for the first time, and in a matter of weeks, Australian and American troops would once again be fighting side by side in a global war to defend our freedom and our way of life.
Australia's response after 9/11 was swift and resolute -- and this comes as no surprise to the American people. Our two nations have fought together in every major conflict of the past century. Australian Diggers have served alongside American GIs throughout the world. American troops are honored to fight beside such dedicated and courageous allies, and the American people are proud to call Australia a partner in the cause of peace and freedom.
You know, it says something that one of my nation's closest allies in the world is also the farthest from our shores. The United States and Australia are separated by geography -- and a lot of it -- but we're united by common values. We share a firm belief in democracy and free enterprise and the universal appeal of liberty. Our two nations are united by common interests. We seek an Asia Pacific region that is growing in freedom and prosperity and peace. And we're determined to help this region become a place of hope where every man, woman, and child has a chance to achieve their God-given potential and to build a better life.
America's commitment to the Asia Pacific region was forged in war and sealed in peace. You know, I recently went to the VFW -- that's one of our finest veterans organizations, the Veterans of Foreign Wars -- and I spoke to the folks there. In that audience today [sic] there were citizens who had been called out of their normal lives to serve their country in a time of war. And they came to fight for freedom in the Pacific. Their courage spared millions from tyranny and laid the foundations for America's enduring presence in this region.
Today, our alliances with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines, and our defense relationships with Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, and others in the region form the bedrock of America's engagement in the Asia Pacific. These security relationships have helped keep the peace in this vital part of the world. They've created conditions that have allowed freedom to expand and markets to grow, and commerce to flow, and young democracies to gain in confidence. America is committed to the security of the Asia Pacific region, and that commitment is unshakable.
The expansion of freedom and democracy in the Asia Pacific region is one of the great stories of our time. At the end of World War II, Australia and New Zealand were the only democracies on this side of the Pacific. Now, some -- nearly 60 years later, we've witnessed Japan's transformation into a thriving free society; we've seen the triumph of democracy in the Philippines; we've seen democratic transitions in Taiwan and South Korea and Indonesia; we've seen the birth of a new democratic nation in East Timor.
The growth of these free societies in this part of the world has unleashed the talent and creativity of millions, and they're using that freedom to build a dynamic and hopeful Asia Pacific region. Our challenge is to strengthen the forces of freedom and prosperity in this region. And one of the best ways to do so is through the expansion of trade and investment.
Today, APEC economies account for nearly half of all international trade. It's going to be amazing, John, we have that meeting tomorrow, and when you look around the table, one-half of all international trade will be represented by the leaders at that -- at the table. The total trade in goods by APEC countries has grown a lot -- it's grown by 300 percent since 1990. Investment in the region has grown by nearly 400 percent. The expansion of trade creates jobs; the expansion of investment creates opportunities for people on this side of the Pacific, and it opens up new markets for American workers and farmers and entrepreneurs. It is in the interest of the United States to liberalize trade and investment at every level -- globally, regionally, and with individual nations.
I believe that the best way to open up markets is through the Doha Round of trade negotiations. Doha represents a once-in-a-generation chance to open up markets and to help millions rise out of poverty. The United States is committed to seizing this opportunity -- and we need partners in this region to help lead the effort. No single country can make Doha a success, but it is possible for a handful of countries that are unwilling to make the necessary contributions to bring Doha to a halt. As negotiations resume in Geneva, leaders in every country have to make tough decisions to reduce barriers to trade. We must focus on what we have to gain, not what we could lose. The United States has both the will and the flexibility to help conclude a successful Doha Round, and we urge our APEC partners to join us in this vital effort.
As we work to liberalize trade and investment through Doha, the United States also supports the vision of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. This would be a free trade area that incorporates all APEC economies; it reduces barriers to trade and investment across the entire Asian Pacific region. It's a bold idea. It's one, Mr. Prime Minister, that we will work hard to make a reality. And as we do so, we'll continue to foster our bilateral ties.
Today the United States has free trade agreements in place with Australia -- and by the way, Mr. Prime Minister, it's working for the benefit of both our countries. And I thank you for your leadership on that issue. We have free trade agreements with Singapore and Canada and Mexico and Chile, and recently we concluded free trade agreements with two more APEC countries: South Korea and Peru. The United States Congress needs to ratify these trade agreements, for the good of the United States and for the good of the world.
I urge the business leaders gathered here to help educate your people in your communities and your workplaces about the benefits of global trade. You have an obligation -- if you believe free trade makes sense, you have an obligation to help educate the people in your communities. I hope you understand this: The surest road to stagnation and instability is the path of isolation and protectionism. The only road to enduring prosperity and stability is through open markets and open trade.
As we work to expand trade and investment, we also got to address the challenges of energy security and global climate change. We need to harness the power of technology to help nations meet their growing energy needs in ways that improve the environment. We need to help people grow their economy and improve the environment, which we can do. It's possible to do so. And the best way to do so is the unleashing of new technologies.
Under Prime Minister Howard's leadership, APEC is holding its first major discussions on a practical set of priorities for cooperation on energy security and clean development and climate change. And, John, thanks for your leadership on this issue. We agree these issues must be addressed in an integrated way. The work we do here at APEC will make an important contribution to the global discussions in the U.N. about a new framework on energy security and climate change. Later this month, the United States will convene a series of meetings of the nations that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China. We're going to work hard to reach an agreement by next year on a detailed plan for future action.
Here's my strategy: In order for there to be effective climate change policy, India and China need to be a part of the process. In order to get them in the process they have to be included in setting international goals. And the process is beginning here at APEC.
I told you I believe technology is going to help solve our energy dependence issues here. I noticed you signed a significant contract with China. Obviously you're not dependent on energy. (Laughter.) We are -- that would be energy from overseas. And so -- and we take climate change seriously in America. Since I've been President, we've invested nearly $12 billion in government-sponsored research in energy technology. I believe that's the proper use of taxpayers' money, to invest in serious research and development. And interestingly enough, the private sector is also responding in the United States. There's a lot of venture capital going into different forms and different styles and different types of energy, as well as the good policy when it comes -- good investment when it comes to climate change.
As a result of our efforts, the United States' economy grew last year and we reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, we're achieving our goal, and that is to be better stewards of the environment, and at the same time, grow our economy. We want our people working. We want people to have hope. I understand a prosperous society is a society which is going to be wealthy enough to make investments necessary to be good stewards of the environment. And that's precisely what's happening in the United States.
We're looking forward to working with the APEC nations to encourage their leadership to invest, just like they're doing here in Australia. We're looking forward to working with ways we can better share technology to encourage developing nations to become better stewards of the environment. And finally, we're working to protect our citizens from the threats and challenges that have emerged in this century.
Today, our nations are standing side by side in a great ideological struggle. In the struggle, the forces of moderation and reasonableness are contending with extremism and radicalism and fear. We're facing a new kind of war. It's a war in which extremists use the murder of the innocent to spread their ideology of hatred and repression -- and we must stop them. For the sake of security and peace, those who sit at the table tomorrow must do everything we can to stop the radicals and the murderers.
The nations of the Asia Pacific understand this threat all too well. You've experienced terrorist violence in your cities and on your streets. Violent Islamic extremists have killed the innocent in Bali and Jakarta and Manila, and in other places. The leaders of al Qaeda have issued threats against Australia and Japan and South Korea. Yet, for each attack that terrorists and extremists have carried out in this part of the world, many others have been stopped -- in places such as Singapore and Manila, and cities here in Australia.
The fight against the terrorists in this region is one of the untold success stories in the war on terror, and the rest of the world could learn from the approach that has been taken in this region to fight the extremists.
The two most dangerous terrorist networks in this region are a group called Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, and a Filipino terrorist group called Abu Sayyaf. Both these groups have been associated with al Qaeda. JI terrorists have trained in al Qaeda's camps NATO Afghanistan. Al Qaeda senior leaders have provided JI with significant funds -- money that helped fund the 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub, the 2003 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, and the 2004 bombing of Australia's embassy in Indonesia. A senior JI leader and al Qaeda associate named Hambali also worked with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on an al Qaeda plot to hijack an airplane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, California. That plot was foiled with the help of governments in this region. We thank you for helping us save countless lives of our citizens.
The other terrorist network is Abu Sayyaf. This is a group who received funding from Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and other Middle East terrorist financiers. Abu Sayyaf was behind the 2001 kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in the Philippines, one of whom they beheaded. They conducted a bombing in Zamboanga City that killed an American soldier and two Filipinos. Abu Sayyaf was behind the worst terrorist attack in the history of the Philippines -- the 2004 bombing of a Manila ferry that killed more than a hundred people.
Nations in the Asia Pacific understand the threat posed by these groups -- and together we're following a clear strategy to defeat them: First, we must do everything we can to bring them to justice so they don't kill the innocent. Nations in the Asia Pacific have arrested and killed key leaders and operatives in networks. In other words, they're following through with that first step of a strategy. In 2003, Hambali was captured, severing the main link between JI and al Qaeda. A few months ago, Indonesian forces tracked down and captured JI's acting emir and JI's top military commander. In the Philippines, the country's military forces launched a campaign called Operation Ultimatum that is targeting Abu Sayyaf. In this operation they killed Abu Sayyaf's top leader; they found and killed his closest advisor and confidant.
Pressure keeps the terrorists on the run, and when on the run, we're safer. We must be determined, we must be focused, and we must not let up.
Second, nations in the Asia Pacific are providing economic assistance to struggling communities where the terrorists operate. The reason we do this is we want to strengthen moderate leaders and give citizens in these communities alternatives to the path of radicalism and violence. For example, in Indonesia the government is working with the United States to implement a $157-million initiative to improve basic education in 1,500 public and private schools.
You know, when the tsunamis hit here in 2004, the United States and friends and allies responded quickly. We did so because we care deeply about the human condition. And that response should send a clear message that the forces of moderation are much more compassionate than the forces of radicalism and terror.
In the Philippines, the government has worked with international donors to deliver aid to Muslim communities in the Southern Philippines that the terrorists have exploited, where they're building roads and bridges and schools and health clinics, and providing micro-credit to local entrepreneurs. The whole purpose of this part of the strategy is to isolate the terrorists and extremists, and to encourage the local population to join the fight against them.
Third, the nations in the Asia Pacific are increasing regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Malaysia and the United States have established a regional counter-terrorism training center in Kuala Lumpur. There are law enforcement training centers in Jakarta and Bangkok that are improving the capabilities of security forces from across this region. And last year, ASEAN nations concluded a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that will improve the sharing of evidence in terrorist investigations. In March, foreign ministers from across the region held a counter-terrorism conference in Jakarta, where they discussed ways they can improve cooperation in the battle against terror.
Finally, nations in the Asia Pacific are working to defeat the terrorists' hateful ideology. Prime Minister Lee of Singapore says this -- and I quote -- "the fight against terrorism is a long-term ideological struggle." I completely agree. We must bring the terrorists to justice. In the short-term, the best way to protect our nations is to keep the pressure on them, is to share intelligence, is to talk a lot about where we may think they are, and to keep our security forces pressuring them. But in the long-term, the best way to bring peace is to defeat them in the battle of ideas.
Our enemies are followers of a violent and narrow ideology. They have a vision which is narrow because it despises freedom, it rejects tolerance, it crushes all dissent. And they have goals. They want to impose this ideology as far and wide as possible. I believe that in the interest of peace we must promote an alternative vision based upon human dignity and human liberty -- a hopeful vision, a vision that is far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder. And that's precisely what we're doing, and that's exactly what leaders here in the Asia Pacific region are doing.
In Indonesia, President Yudhoyono hosted an interfaith dialogue soon after taking office where he called on his fellow citizens to ensure that "the forces of light and reason and hope overpower the forces of darkness, despair, and violence." The head of the largest Muslim organization, Dr. Hasyim Muzadi, was one of the first Muslim leaders to visit Ground Zero in New York. And here's what he said: "There is no violence, cruelty, chaos, or viciousness on behalf of religion, including Islam."
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Badawi is working to promote what he calls "Islam Hadhari" -- or "Civilization Islam." He's called on his fellow Malaysians to "show by example that a Muslim country can be modern and democratic and tolerant, and economically competitive."
In the Philippines, President Arroyo has reached out to Muslim leaders and has called the Filipinos to oppose "terrorists who kill, bomb, and maim to enforce an ideology of evil." A group of leading Filipino Islamic jurists issued a joint sermon declaring, "Islam and terrorism stand on the opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Murder and the killing of innocent civilians in warfare is strictly forbidden."
These and other efforts are making a difference. And there's fertile ground to do so, because, you see, the vast majority of citizens in this region and around the world reject extremism. They want to live in peace. They want to live in freedom. And it's in the interests of the United States to actively support these forces of moderation, and we will do so.
Freedom has transformed this region. If you really think about the past, it's amazing what has transpired here. Freedom is transformative. Freedom is a powerful force. There's more work to be done here. We must work for the day when the people of North Korea enjoy the same freedoms as the citizens of their democratic neighbors. We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting and harassing and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations. The Burmese regime must release these activists immediately. It must stop its intimidation of these citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights. It must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
We'll continue to work with nations like Russia to advance our shared interests while encouraging Russia's leaders to respect the checks and balances that are essential to democracy. We'll encourage to work with China, but as we do so, we'll never shy away from expressing our deepest-held values that each person has human dignity, and that we believe strongly in liberty. You know, China will be the host of the Olympic Games; I'm looking forward to going. And it's going to be a great moment of pride for the Chinese people. It will also be a moment where China's leaders can use this opportunity to show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance.
And finally, we look forward to free and fair elections in Thailand.
APEC nations are supporting the advance of freedom in this region. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore helped lead the effort to include democratic and human rights principles in the ASEAN Charter. Japan has incorporated democracy and governance programs into its official development assistance. South Korea hosted an historic gathering of the world's free nations, the Community of Democracies summit. These are important steps -- and now we must build on them by forging new regional institutions to encourage the continued expansion of freedom in this vital part of the world. And so this week, the United States is proposing the creation of a new Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership. Through this partnership, free nations will work together to support democratic values, strengthen democratic institutions, and assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the Asia Pacific region.
The lesson of freedom's advance in the Asia Pacific region is this: The desire for liberty is universal, written by our Creator into the hearts of every man, woman, and child. Whenever they're given a chance, whenever they're given an opportunity, the people of every culture and every religion choose freedom over oppression. In Asia, millions have been given this chance, and they built free societies that are sources of peace and prosperity. And now we must give that same chance to millions across the broader Middle East, who share the same desire for freedom that burns in the hearts of people of this region.
I want to thank the APEC nations who are standing with young democracies in the Middle East that are under assault by the terrorists and extremists. In Afghanistan, forces from Australia and Canada and South Korea and New Zealand and Singapore are helping the Afghan people build a free nation and stopping the Taliban and the al Qaeda from returning to intimidate the innocent. In Lebanon, forces from Indonesia and Malaysia and South Korea and China are serving as part of the United Nations force that's helping bring stability to a free nation that is threatened by radical regimes and terrorist violence. And in Iraq, personnel from Australia and Japan and South Korea are helping Iraq's democratically elected government rebuild from the rubble of tyranny. We're working hard to stop al Qaeda from turning that country into a safe haven.
You may have heard, on my way down here I stopped in Iraq -- stopped in Anbar Province. Anbar was an al Qaeda stronghold. Their leaders of al Qaeda had announced that they were going to establish a safe haven from which to launch further attacks on my nation -- for starters. It was a part of Iraq that was dangerous and, the truth of the matter is, the a lot of the experts in my country had said was lost to al Qaeda.
I went there because al Qaeda has lost Anbar. The opposite happened. Anbar is a Sunni province that once had people joining al Qaeda -- they're now turning against al Qaeda. Why? Because people don't want to follow a dark vision. People want to live in hope. Moms around the world share the same deep desire, and that is for their children to grow up in peace and in hopeful societies.
And so, the sheikhs there and the local folks turned against al Qaeda. And they asked for help, and we're giving it to them. And we're driving al Qaeda out of their strongholds. And we're giving people a chance to live in peace. And I was proud to go there.
By the way, the same security situation in Anbar is being replicated throughout parts of the country. By providing security we're creating conditions that allow people to reconcile. It's hard for people to come together after years of tyranny, particularly since the brutal dictator did all he could to divide society in order to stay in power. Those of us who live in the comfort of free societies -- it's hard to imagine what it is like to recover -- psychologically recover from life under a thug like Saddam Hussein. But that's what's happening. And they need time to do so. And they need the security necessary to do so.
We're giving this young democracy the chance. It's in our interest to do so -- because, as John Howard accurately noted when he went to thank the Australian troops there last year -- here's what he said. He said, if we leave before the job is done -- if we leave Iraq before the job is done "it would represent a devastating blow to the hopes of a stable future for the Middle East. It would embolden the Iranians. They would unsettle and destabilize the more moderate elements amongst the Arab states in the region, and it would represent a monumental victory for the cause of international terrorism." The Prime Minister says: What Iraq and her people now need is time, not a timetable. They seek our patience, not political posturing. They require resolve, not our retreat.
We're going to succeed in Iraq. If given a chance, liberty will succeed every time, and liberty will help yield the peace we need.
This is the calling of our time, by the way. This is what leaders have been called to do, is to be able to see over the horizon and envision a peaceful future. This is hard work we're doing, but it's the kind of work we've done before. We've done this kind of work in East Asia before. East Asia used to be a region of turmoil and danger, and today it's a region of peace and hope and opportunity. With resolve and strength of conviction, the same thing will happen in the Middle East. And when they look back at this period, Mr. Prime Minister, they'll say: Job well done.
I'm honored to be here on the soil of an ally like Australia. We share values; we share vision; and we share resolve to not only protect our people, but to spread the peace. God bless. (Applause.)
END 9:37 A.M. (Local)