APEC foreign ministers liken terrorism to barbarism

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APEC foreign ministers liken terrorism to barbarism By Sarah Suk

SHANGHAI, Oct. 18, Kyodo - Foreign ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum likened terrorism to barbarism Thursday as they confirmed their commitment to combat terrorist acts through joint efforts by the international community, a Japanese official said.

The ministers or their proxies from 19 of the 21 members of the forum emphasized the importance of global cooperation based on related international treaties and U.N. resolutions to fight terrorism in the wake of last month's attacks in the United States.

The fight is ''not just against evil, but it is also civilization against barbarism,'' Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, who hosted the 90-minute breakfast meeting at Shanghai's International Convention Center, was quoted as saying.

The participants also shared the view that terrorism is a threat to international peace and security and that countries must cooperate to prevent such acts, including eliminating possible causes such as poverty, the official said.

They emphasized the importance of APEC leaders discussing the matter further when they meet in the Chinese city over the weekend and issue a joint statement on antiterrorism.

''It is very meaningful for the APEC forum to issue a message strongly condemning terrorism and important for it to take measures to eliminate terrorist acts,'' Japanese Senior Vice Foreign Minister Shigeo Uetake was quoted as saying.

The foreign ministers took time off from APEC conference proceedings to discuss the global fight against terrorism. Hong Kong and Taiwan were excluded from the meeting as they are not recognized as countries.

At the annual APEC summit Saturday and Sunday, the leaders are expected to ''unequivocally condemn'' the terrorist attacks on the U.S. and call for comprehensive international cooperation against terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations, according to the latest draft of their statement.

The draft of the statement revised Tuesday says the leaders consider the ''murderous deeds...as a profound threat to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of all faiths, of all nations.''

They emphasize the need to strengthen international cooperation ''at all levels in combating terrorism in a comprehensive manner and affirm that the U.N. should play a major role in this regard, especially taking into account the importance of all the relevant U.N. resolutions.''

The APEC forum leaders' meeting will be the first major multilateral summit since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington. The antiterrorism statement is scheduled to be released on the last day.

It is the first time for a political statement to be issued in the economically oriented APEC process, in which the ministers are meeting for the 13th time and leaders the ninth.

The foreign ministers of the forum, which mainly addresses issues concerning economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, are meeting for the second time separately from the formal APEC meetings to discuss more political matters.

The last time was in 1999 during a ministerial conference in New Zealand when foreign ministers discussed the future of East Timor. The APEC leaders, however, did not proceed to issue a separate statement on the situation then.

Meanwhile, Japan is among a handful of countries that have not dispatched cabinet ministers in charge of foreign affairs to the two-day APEC foreign and trade ministers' meeting ending Thursday evening.

Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka could not attend due to parliamentary business involving efforts to enact antiterrorism legislation that would allow Japan's Self-Defense Forces to provide rear-area logistics support to the ongoing U.S.-led military campaign against terrorism.

The effects of the terrorist attacks on the economy and the Pacific Rim's role in the antiterrorism campaign have been taken up extensively at the two-day APEC ministerial meeting wrapping up Thursday.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the U.S. and Vietnam.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 18, 2001

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