Bush Cuts Short Asia Trip, to Reschedule Beijing Visit

US President George W Bush will attend a meeting of Asian leaders in Shanghai next month but has postponed planned stops in Japan, South Korea and Beijing, the White House announced on Tuesday.

"President Bush has modified his planned travel to Asia in October," spokesman Ari Fleischer said in a written statement issued two weeks after suicide plane attacks on Washington and New York left almost 7,000 people dead or missing. Another plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

He said Bush would attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai on October 20 and 21 as scheduled but has postponed stops in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

"These visits will be rescheduled when circumstances permit," Fleischer said.

Fleischer told reporters Bush had cut short the trip due to "a desire to shorten the amount of time the president would be out of the country." He said he believed Bush could accomplish much of what he intended for the trip during the APEC forum and in individual meetings with leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

Although no official schedule had been released, Bush had originally planned to be away for as long as 10 or 12 days.

The September 11 hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington have prompted the biggest US mobilization since the 1991 Gulf War, with heavy bombers, warships and elite Special forces moved to the Gulf, Central Asia and Indian Ocean region near Afghanistan.

The military buildup code named "Operation Enduring Freedom" is in apparent preparation for an anticipated strike on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, who have refused to hand over fugitive militant leader Osama bin Laden, the United States' prime suspect in the attacks.

Former President Bill Clinton skipped two APEC summits -- one in Osaka, Japan in 1996 due to domestic budget problems, and a 1998 summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia because of an Iraq crisis.

Many perceived his no-show in Osaka as a snub to Asia and to Japan and the Philippines expressed dismay after Clinton backed out of the 1998 summit, saying his presence would have shown greater US commitment to the region.

Police in Japan had feared possible attacks targeting Bush during his visit to Tokyo, and had been meeting to set up tight security measures.

(China Daily 09/26/2001)

In This Series

US and China Hold Anti-terrorism Talks in Washington

Bush's Postponing Asian Visit Understandable, Spokesman



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