Monday, October 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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APEC condemns terrorism
But does not back US strikes

Shanghai, October 21
Pacific rim leaders today condemned the terrorist attacks in America as "murderous deeds" and demanded international cooperation in fighting terrorism, although they did not endorse the ongoing US military campaign in Afghanistan.

After a two-day summit involving US President George W. Bush and his counterparts from countries, including China, Russia and Japan, APEC issued the unprecedented statement about an unfolding geopolitical crisis.

APEC delegates had previously said they would not be able to mention the war in Afghanistan or the hardline Talibanís protection of Osama bin Laden, the key suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks, because of the political sensibilities of two large predominantly Muslim nations in the economic forum: Indonesia and Malaysia.

"Leaders consider the murderous deeds as well as other terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations, committed wherever, whenever and by whomsoever as a profound threat to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of all faiths, of all nations," the statement said.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, deviating sharply from its normal economic agenda, found itself unable to back US-led assaults on Afghanistan, even though Washington has the support of former adversaries Russia and China.

By contrast, Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed worries about the deaths of Muslim civilians in Afghanistan and called for a stop to the bombing. They fear a backlash across the Muslim world could spread instability.

APEC leaders noted that the terror attacks affected the slowing global economy they are working to restart.

"Terrorism is also a direct challenge to APECís vision of free, open and prosperous economies, and to the fundamental values that APEC members hold," the statement said.

The leaders called for the suppression of terrorism and for bringing terrorists to justice.

Getting down to business on the last day of the APEC summit, Mr Bush joined the other APEC leaders in donning traditional Chinese attire and posing for a group photograph. Reuters, AP

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