Presidential Radio Address - 18 November 2006
Good morning. This week I'm visiting Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where I'm attending the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. On this trip, I am carrying a message for the people of this region. America will remain engaged in Asia because our interests depend on the expansion of freedom and opportunity in this vital part of the world.
Asia is important to America because prosperity in our country depends on trade with Asia's growing economies. Today, America's trade across the Pacific is greater than our trade across the Atlantic, and we need to continue opening up markets in this part of the world to American goods and services.
My position is clear: As long as the playing field is level, America's farmers, small businesses, and workers can compete with anyone, so America will continue to pursue free and fair trade at every level with individual countries across whole regions and through the World Trade Organization. By opening new markets for American goods and services, we help create new customers for our products abroad and jobs and opportunities for our workers and small businesses at home.
Asia is also important to America because our nations face common challenges like energy and disease that transcend borders. Our growing economies are too dependent on oil, and we have a common interest in pursuing affordable, reliable energy alternatives. So we're working with our partners in this region to develop new energy technologies that will make us less dependent on oil, including clean coal and ethanol, bio-diesel and hydrogen fuel cells.
We are also working with our partners in the region to address the threat of diseases like Avian flu, which has the potential to claim many lives and inflict terrible damage on our societies if not detected and stopped quickly -- so we're sharing information and putting wise preparedness plans in place to help ensure that we can contain the spread of Avian flu and be ready if a pandemic ever occurs. By coming together to address these and other challenges, we're helping build more hopeful societies in Asia and stronger partners for America.
Finally, Asia is important to America because we face common threats to our security. The people of this region understand the terrorist threat because they have been targets of terrorist violence. Since September the 11th, the terrorists have attacked a nightclub in Bali, a hotel in Jakarta, a ferry packed with passengers in Manila Bay, a school full of children in Russia, Australia's embassy in Indonesia and many other targets. The killers who committed these acts of terror are followers of a clear and focused ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance -- and their stated goal is a radical Islamic empire stretching from Europe to Southeast Asia.
The greatest danger in our world today is that these terrorists could get their hands on weapons of mass destruction and use them to blackmail free nations or kill on an unimaginable scale. This threat poses a risk to our entire civilization, and we're working with our partners in the Asia Pacific region to defeat it.
In my meetings with leaders in the region, we discussed the threat of proliferation from North Korea. After North Korea's recent nuclear test, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea's regime, and America is working with our partners to enforce those sanctions. We will also continue working with Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia through the Six-Party talks. Our nations are speaking with one voice: North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons programs, and we will not tolerate North Korea's proliferation of nuclear technology to hostile regimes and terrorist networks.
In the long run, the surest path to security is the expansion of freedom. History shows that free societies are peaceful societies, so America is committed to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternative to repression and radicalism. And by standing with our allies in the Asia Pacific region, we will defend our free way of life, confront the challenges of a new century, and build a more hopeful, peaceful, and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for listening.