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U.S. wins support from China

Bush made no headway on the issues of missile defense and weapons proliferation
Bush made no headway on the issues of missile defense and weapons proliferation  

By CNN's Alex Frew McMillan in Shanghai
and White House Correspondent Major Garrett

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says he has won a "firm commitment" of support from Chinese President Jiang Zemin for the war Washington is waging against terrorism.

Bush described their first face-to-face meeting as "very good," and told reporters there was "no hesitation, no doubt that they would stand with the United States and our people during this terrible time."

Bush, in Shanghai for a weekend summit at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, said Jiang had pledged Beijing's cooperation on intelligence and choking off the supply of funds to groups involved in terrorism.

Jiang said the two leaders had reached "consensus" on the fight against terrorism, Sino-U.S. relations and the need to maintain world stability.

U.S. President George Bush gained the support of Chinese President Jiang Zemin for the war on terrorism (October 19)

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Senior officials said Bush in no way felt Jiang was layering conditions on China's support of the war on terrorism by admonishing the U.S. government to choose "clearly defined targets" while it seeks to "avoid innocent casualties".

Jiang also said the U.S. should ensure that the "United Nations should be brought into full play."

Best face

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, sought to put the best face on Jiang's comments, declaring they simply restate the overall goals of U.S. policy.

"I think he was restating what we have always said about civilian casualties -- that we will do everything we can to avoid them," said a senior official.

As for the reference to the U.N., another senior official said the U.S. has every right to prosecute its war on terrorism as an act of "self-defense".

The official said the administration did not interpret Jiang's reference to the U.N. as a veiled threat that China was reserving the right to object to any Security Council endorsement of a U.S. military campaign outside of Afghanistan.

"We didn't perceive this as any layering of conditions," the official said. "The right to self defense is recognized in the U.N. charter."

China holds a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Former foes unite

Bush, who touched down in this southern city on Thursday evening, is making his first trip overseas after the September 11 attacks.

It is also his first official visit to Chinese soil, and his first visit to China in more than a quarter century. He came to Shanghai as a college student with his father.

The two leaders met Friday morning at Shanghai's Western Guesthouse, an old mansion and Jiang's official residence in his hometown of Shanghai.

Aware that he is perhaps getting a little more than center stage at this regional meet of Asian and Pacific leaders, Bush flattered Jiang by saying he was happy to visit the world's most populous nation.

"You are president of a great nation," Bush said. "It is important for us to get to know each other. Thanks for the invitation, I look forward to a great session."

The forum is something of a swansong for Jiang, who is expected to surrender his title of general secretary of the communist party next year, although he will cling to the largely ceremonial title of president until 2003.

Behind the scenes

The APEC forum is something of a swansong for Jiang
The APEC forum is something of a swansong for Jiang  

Offering a behind the scenes glimpse of the encounter, senior Bush officials conceded the meeting lacked the strong personal chemistry achieved by Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Lubljana, Slovenia.

Even so, the senior officials said the meeting was not without important exchanges. Near the end of the third hour of talks, Bush summed up his goals on terrorism by declaring that "civilized people like you and me can't understand how these people [terrorists] think."

Bush went on to urge Jiang to join the global coalition which he said "must act" to create a more peaceful world for the "children and grandchildren" of both leaders.

At the end of Bush's remarks, officials quoted Jiang as saying: "I've heard your determination and we agree with your views."

No headway on other issues

Ties have been on the upswing as both nations try to put an April 1 air collision between a U.S. spy and Chinese fighter jet behind them.

Relations have also been strained by Bush's proposed national missile defense plan and his administration's support of Taiwan.

Jiang was keen to switch discussions away from terrorism towards economics and the issue of Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province.

The officials conceded that no headway was made on the issues of ballistic missile defense and weapons proliferation, which Bush pressed during the meeting.

On the issue of weapons proliferation, Bush told the Chinese president "we must do everything we can to stop the spread of weapons around the world," but this policy statement elicited no reply.

Similarly, when Bush told Jiang that China had nothing to fear from ballistic missile defense, that the threat was from "rogue" nations that might one day "blackmail you or us," again there was no reply from Jiang.

Bush will address the APEC summit on Saturday and officials told CNN his speech would emphasize the global economic stakes at the heart of the war on terror.

They said Bush will contrast the "open, optimistic" vision on free trade and free markets against "the dark vision" of terrorists who seek to kill civilians and destabilize free societies.


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