ASIA-PACIFIC LEGISLATORS MEETING IN HONOLULU TACKLE TERRORISM

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (January 8, 2002 – East-West Wire) Legislators from 25 Asia-Pacific nations focused on combating terrorism today at the 10th Annual Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, with the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives saying countries must "rethink" their levels of defense and security.

"Each of us who serves in a parliament must rethink our level of defense, security and intelligence expenditures and we must strengthen collective security arrangements," said Dennis Hastert, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in opening remarks.

The U.S. Congress just approved legislation increasing America's defense budget by almost $60 billion, Hastert said. "We must take steps to guarantee our economic security, both as individual nations and as global partners. Without question, the national and international economic ripple effect of Sept. 11 will continue to be felt for some time. But we cannot allow these events to allow us to close our borders to both people and goods."

Five resolutions were submitted on terrorism during a session that was closed to the media. A joint-communiqué will be released Wednesday. The East-West Center is serving as secretariat for the Jan. 6-9 forum.

In a lunch speech, James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific Affairs, said American policy will continue to grope with the complexities of how to relate economic and security issues and how to encourage the three big countries of China, India and Russia "to reach their enormous potential without being tempted to abuse power...Unlike Europe, Asia is still a place in which armed conflict can occur with little warning between major powers, so the United States continues its commitment to a military presence in the region."

On other security issues, Kelly said the alliance between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea remains firm. "U.S. policy has no better idea for dealing with North Korea than Kim Dae Jung’s constructive engagement or sunshine policy. President Kim worked tirelessly for peace and to encourage the economic reforms so essential to the north’s well being. Now tension on the Korean peninsula is essentially an issue for Koreans to resolve."

Kelly said the United States is looking to collaborate with the Philippines "even more closely than in the past, perhaps to help train Philippine response in dealing with some local matters of terrorism, crime, and kidnapping, that go on in the Philippines as well, in addition to helping that country reach the economic state it so richly deserves."

Tom Daschle, U.S. Senate majority leader, will give brief remarks Tuesday followed by Admiral Dennis C. Blair, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

For more information, interviews or speeches, contact Susan Kreifels or John Williams at the Hilton Hawaiian Village at (808)949-4321 and ask for the APPF Secretariat, or email williamj@eastwestcenter.org or kreifels@eastwestcenter.org

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