Bangkok, Oct. 18 (Reuters): Pacific Rim ministers agreed today to a US proposal to regulate shoulder-fired missiles, but some expressed reservations about a US drive to put the fight against terror on an equal footing with boosting prosperity.
The US called on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum foreign ministers, meeting in the Thai capital amid tight security before a summit on Monday and Tuesday, to agree that crushing terror was essential to ensure economic growth.
President George W. Bush emphasised the link during a brief visit to the Philippines on his way to Bangkok, saying open markets would be an“important conversation that I will have with the members of Apec”.
But, terror threatened them all “and therefore we must continue to cooperate”, he said. “What I’m trying to do and will continue to do is remind people that the war on terror goes on.”
Several nations on the Asian side of the Pacific, however, want Apec to place more emphasis on boosting prosperity, which has been its main goal since its inauguration in 1989.
“One country was of the strong opinion that Apec is a forum where we talk freely about economic issues, not political ones,” said Japanese trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa.
He did not identify the country, but other Apec officials said it was China. “Apec, because of its name which is very clear, is about economic cooperation, it’s not a security forum,” said Thai foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai. However, security issues have been touched upon as some affect Apec economies.
“Apec leaders are painfully aware that security and prosperity are inseparable,” Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. While some less developed economies were anxious about finding that balance, foreign ministers reached broad consensus on the need for fresh efforts to put derailed WTO market-opening talks back on track.