Bush heads for Apec summit

George Bush making last scheduled trip abroad as US president for finance talks.

    North Korea's nuclear programme will
    be up for discussion at the summit [DigitalGlobe]

    'No farewell'

    However, with Bush's low popularity ratings and world leaders already seeking favour with Obama, many officials have warned that Bush is unlikely to secure any major policy breakthroughs.

    Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said she "wouldn't expect a lot of news to be made on this trip", however Daniel Price, Bush's adviser on global economic affairs described the summit as "a serious meeting".

    "I don't think this is a farewell ... but rather an opportunity for the president to continue to carry forward an affirmative agenda," he said.

    Bush is also keen for better economic integration with Apec nations, as the US, which has seen its trade with Apec rise from $1.2 trillion in 2001 to almost $2 trillion in 2007, is concerned that new free trade initiatives have "focused on Asia-first or Asia-only agreements," Price added.

    Bush also denied in his television interview that Latin America became a lower priority for his administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Free-trade agreements with countries in the region and programmes focusing on health and education showed the US commitment to Latin America, he said.

    "The record speaks about our deep desire to be good neighbours, and to have friends."

    North Korea talks

    Bush will also reportedly hold talks with the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev [EPA]
    Bush will also use the gathering of world leaders to hold bilateral talks on encouraging North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

    Bush will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday and the Japanese and South Korean leaders a day later for discussions on how to advance the North Korea talks.

    North Korea has agreed to disable its Yongbyon nuclear plant and to submit to
    inspections to verify its claims about its arms programme.

    However it recently slowed the dismantling work, saying it was not properly receiving the promised compensation.

    Bush is also planning to meet Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, on the sidelines of the APEC meeting, Johndroe said. 

    The two will discuss the conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Moscow's staunch opposition to US plans to base a missile defence system in Eastern Europe, he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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