AFP reports that,
BANGKOK (AFP) – President George W. Bush will seek to reassure Asian allies that Washington remains committed to trade and democracy in the region, in a speech set for Thursday on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.
In an advance copy of the speech, released Wednesday by the White House, Bush hails the “Asian miracle” that saw economies blossom across the region.
“Over the past six decades, Asia has gone from an area mired in poverty and recovering from world war to a thriving and dynamic region,” he was to say, noting that US-Asian trade now totals more than one trillion dollars.
“Our interests and ideals alike require stronger engagement in Asia than ever before.”
Bush outlined his administration’s efforts to bolster ties with countries across Asia, where critics have voiced fears that US interests in the region have been eclipsed by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“By maintaining a stabilising military presence, we helped to free emerging nations from concerns about security,” the prepared remarks said.
“Overall, America has improved our relationships with all of Asia’s major powers at the same time,” he was to say.
“By pursuing strong diplomatic engagement, we helped once-hostile nations resolve their differences in peace. And by opening our markets to Asian exports, we helped powerful economies to take shape.”
“All these steps were designed to reassure our allies that America will stand firmly beside them in any test we face,” the remarks say.
Bush was set to deliver the speech in Bangkok after a stop in Seoul, as he heads to Beijing for the opening of the Olympics on Friday.
While praising the spread of democracy across the region, he also called on Asian nations to work with the United States to bring progress to countries like Myanmar and North Korea, where repressive regimes have seen their countries lose out on development in the region.
“Every nation in this region has a stake in ensuring that Asia continues to grow in liberty, prosperity and hope,” he was to say.
Bush said the United States would continue to build “confident and purposeful alliances” across Asia, pointing to increased US military cooperation with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
He also highlighted US efforts to foster democracy in Mongolia, improved ties with India, and expanded cooperation with Southeast Asian nations.
Bush, who is winding down the last year of his presidency, called for his successor to continue pushing for free trade agreements with Asian countries.
“Voices of economic isolationism do not represent the interests of the American people,” he said.
“I urge people across this region to reject protectionism in your own countries. Together, we can lead the world toward more growth, more jobs, and more opportunities by staying open to investment and trade.”