Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Bush vows to attend APEC meet

REUTERS , BEIJING

US President George W. Bush will attend an October summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Shanghai as planned despite the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the US, a top Chinese official said yesterday.

Bush told Chinese President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) in a telephone conversation on Wednesday he would attend the APEC meeting, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya told a news conference.

"After the conversation between the Chinese and US presidents after the attack, President George W. Bush confirmed that he will attend as planned the October event, the APEC informal meeting in Shanghai," Wang said.

A US embassy spokesman said the mission had not been informed of any change in Bush's plans to visit China for the event, which is scheduled to feature his first meeting with Jiang.

Nineteen other leaders from around the region are due to attend. The absence of top US leaders at key APEC events in recent years has upset some Asian governments.

Former president Bill Clinton skipped two APEC summits -- one in Osaka, Japan in 1996 due to a domestic budget crisis, and a 1998 summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia because of a crisis in Iraq.

Many perceived his no-show in Osaka as a snub to Asia and to Japan, and the Philippines expressed dismay after Clinton backed out of the Kuala Lumpur summit, saying his presence would have shown greater US commitment to the region.

In the wake of Tuesday's attacks and the closure of all US airports, China posted sentries to guard US airliners grounded at Shanghai airport and put a team of 150 commandos on alert to respond to any emergency, police said yesterday.

Wang gave assurances of tight security at the October APEC meeting.

"The relevant organizing committees for the APEC informal leaders' meeting to be held in Shanghai have always paid the highest attention to the issue of security," he said.

"We will try our best to provide security guarantees," he said.

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