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Bush heads to summit in China

By Associated Press

Thursday October 18, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - President Bush headed to a summit in China to strengthen the coalition behind his war on terrorism yesterday and said the United States was "supported by the conscience of the world."

"We are not alone in this struggle," said Bush, preparing to join world leaders at a 21-nation economic conference in Shanghai.

There, Bush will hold talks with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

The four-day trip overseas is Bush's first since the devastating Sept. 11 attacks and, as anthrax exposure led to an unprecedented shutdown of the U.S. House, he acknowledged: "I leave at a very difficult time."

The trip - with its trade-focused agenda - is too important to cancel, Bush said.

"The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and we will defeat them by expanding and encouraging world trade," he said.

Bush made a brief California stopover designed to rally U.S. troops, struggling businesses and jittery Americans everywhere.

"The terrorists want us to stop our lives. That's what they want," Bush told several thousand people crammed into the Sacramento convention center. "They want us to stop flying and they want us to stop buying, but this great nation will not be intimidated by the evildoers."

An American flag the size of a movie screen was pinned to the wall behind him, and the crowd sang "God Bless America."

The president said that when terrorists struck Washington and New York "they attacked us all - and they're hearing from us all."

He said his military, diplomatic and intelligence initiatives were "taking apart the terrorist network piece by piece" but cautioned that the effort will take time.

"We are supported by the conscience of the world and we are surrounding terrorists and their sponsors in a tightening net of justice," he said.

Later, before beginning his 13-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, Bush told

flag-waving troops at Travis Air Force Base, "There's no question that we're inflicting pain on the Taliban government."

The Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting will take Bush out of the country while U.S. military forces strike Afghanistan. Several APEC nations harbor or are hindered by terrorist organizations - including Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia - and could become the focus of any U.S. campaign beyond the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan Bush returns Monday, having cut his itinerary by more than half because of the conflict. "I leave at a very difficult time in my country because of these terrorist attacks, the recent anthrax that has made it in the news," Bush said in an Oval Office interview with Asian editors Tuesday. A transcript was released by the White House yesterday.

"On the other hand, I think it is very important for me to go, to not only discuss our economic interests and our bilateral interests but to continue to talk about the war on terrorism," he said.

At the convention center, Bush said U.S. airstrikes were "paving the way for friendly troops on the ground" to defeat Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia and root out what he called "the parasites" - Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

It was the clearest statement yet by Bush of his intention to rely on the northern alliance of opposition troops.

Bush meets today with Jiang, who has offered anti-terrorism intelligence to the United States.

White House officials denied reports that, in a sort of quid pro quo, Bush might lift sanctions against selling spare helicopter parts to China, a policy imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.

Bush, who has talked to Jiang at least twice by phone, said, "I think my first priority is, of course, for Jiang Zemin to look me in the eye, take the measure of the American president."

Bush promised a "frank discussion" on human rights and China's record of arms sales to rogue nations, two issues that divide the nations, as well as trade.

U.S. officials said the anti-terrorism campaign could thaw relations that were damaged last spring when an American spy plane and a Chinese military jet collided. The Chinese pilot was killed, and China resisted U.S. demands for the immediate return of the downed American plane.


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