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Inside Politics

Bush hopes to strengthen ties with Latin America, Asia


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President Bush makes his weekly radio address.
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George W. Bush
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SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- President Bush, visiting Chile for the APEC summit, expects his first trip outside the United States since winning a second term to bear political and economic fruit among Asian and Latin American countries.

"I am meeting with many allies and friends to strengthen our ties across the Pacific and discuss practical ways we can enhance prosperity, advance liberty, and improve our shared security," Bush said, speaking in his weekly radio address Saturday.

It is the foreign policy kickoff of a second term in which Bush said he "will continue to pursue a confident foreign policy agenda that will spread freedom and hope and make our nation more secure."

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summits are largely trade-oriented, and Bush noted that "America seeks wider trade and broader freedom and greater security for the benefit of America, our partners, and all of the world."

Bush said free trade is one of many "vital interests" United States and the countries of Latin America and Asia share. He cited a number of trade agreements in both continents and said others are under negotiation.

But the APEC meetings also serve to promote political harmony and democracy, and Bush pointed out that "Pacific nations also have a clear interest in spreading the benefits of liberty, democracy and good government across this vital part of the world."

He urged Pacific nations to keep up their anti-terror efforts.

"At last year's summit, APEC leaders started a major initiative to strengthen the security of ports and transportation networks, to defend our aircraft from the threat of portable missiles, and to end the flow of terrorist finances.

"This year, APEC leaders will work together to improve the security of our ships and ports. We will develop a new system to track and stop the travel of suspected terrorists using forged or stolen documents. And we launched new programs to support APEC members that have the will to fight terror, but need help in developing the means."

Bush -- who was to have bilateral meetings with many leaders at the summit -- made the point in his radio address of saying he will be sitting down with the presidents of Chile and Colombia -- Ricardo Lagos and Alvaro Uribe -- to reaffirm ties.

"Colombia is making progress in the fight against terrorists who traffic in illegal drugs, and America is standing with the Colombian government to oppose the drug trade that destroys lives in our countries and threatens the stability of our hemisphere," Bush said.


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