Powell Meetings Productive

Secretary of State Colin Powell's discussions with 18 foreign ministers at a Shanghai economic summit have been "very good," according to a senior State Department official.

Powell has focused largely on a counter-terrorism coalition following the Sept. 11 attacks, but the United States feels there is plenty that can be done within the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation that both accomplishes the organization's goals and contributes in the fight against terrorism.

The official said Powell is pushing for cooperation on transportation, security, energy and finances, all of which can be of assistance in the fight against terror. 

Nineteen nations belong to APEC, and thus 19 foreign ministers, including the secretary, are meeting. There are 21 "economies" in APEC with the inclusion of Hong Kong and Taiwan, both officially part of China. 

Powell wants to address what APEC can actively do beyond just offering support, the source said, and members' responses have been encouraging so far.

"This was the World Trade Center," he said of the business center that was targeted in the attack, "so when APEC economies look at this, it was an attack on what gave Asia its prosperity." 

The group should first fight terrorism directly, he said, but also look at economic effects, pursuing an aggressive trade agenda.

Thursday evening, Powell met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov for a working dinner and it appears the exchange was very broad and quite vigorous. 

"Good" and "useful" were the adjectives used by a State Deptartment spokesperson. 

The two men went through all the items that will be on their presidents' agendas in the near future.

Among the topics: "strategic framework" issues, economic cooperation, the ongoing battle in the breakaway province of Chechnya, the state of the Russian media, Middle East peace, Russia's neighboring Georgia and its restive Abkhazia region, and "smart sanctions" against Iraq about which the United States and Russia have disagreed in the past.

The official noted Russia has changed its thinking about strategic matters and improved its dialogue on Russia-NATO relations.

"Clearly the Russians are making these decisions for financial reasons, but they also do see these as changed times," he said.

Presidents Bush and Putin will meet Sunday at the end of the APEC meeting.