Asia-Pacific Leaders Push for Better Security

Tying the terror fight to economic growth, Pacific Rim leaders closed out an annual summit clouded by worries about the North Korean nuclear crisis — and at least one missile test by the North.

The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (search) forum said it would work to "dismantle fully and without delay transnational terrorist groups that threaten the APEC economies."

The joint statement came after President Bush (search) pushed security to the top of the agenda at a summit where others wanted to focus on the official goal of free trade.

"If there is no security it is going to be very difficult to have any trade at all," Chilean President Ricardo Lagos (search) told a news conference Tuesday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said terrorism must be stopped to ensure economic stability, and urged his fellow leaders to employ "closer cooperation and stronger measures to address both the symptoms and root causes of the problem," according to an account on state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The APEC nations, also including China, Japan and Russia, vowed to work against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, an apparent reference to the North Korean nuclear weapons standoff, though the APEC statement did not specifically mention the reclusive, communist North.

However, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (search), who chaired the meeting, read a separate statement urging a "peaceful resolution through dialogue by addressing the concerns of all the parties including the security concerns" raised by Pyongyang.

APEC leaders said they would better control the production, storage and sales of handheld anti-aircraft missiles that could be used to down civilian jetliners. APEC leaders said they would halt the missiles from going to any "non-state" users, though they stopped short of a complete ban.

APEC urged the World Trade Organization to quickly restart talks for a global commerce deal after the collapse of negotiations last month in the Mexican resort of Cancun. APEC reiterated its goal to achieve its own free trade and investment zone, among developed members by 2010 and developing members by 2020 and said it was on track.

North Korea test-fired a land-to-sea missile on Monday as the summit opened, and there was an unconfirmed report that a second missile might have been fired Tuesday as leaders were packing up to leave the Thai capital. Washington accused the North of a provocative act.

Japan pushed for a final APEC communique naming North Korea with a call for Pyongyang "to take prompt measures to dismantle all of its nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

Others including China and Russia resisted the move, diplomats said, and the compromise was to have Thaksin read a somewhat milder statement on the issue.

Thaksin said all concerns, including the North's security worries, must be addressed.

The North is insisting on a nonaggression pact with Washington as part of any resolution. Bush ruled out the idea but held open the possibility of providing other assurances to Pyongyang. Bush insisted Washington has no plans to invade the North.

Hu discussed the crisis privately with Bush and said he would seek to restart talks including the United States, China, both Koreas, Japan and Russia.

Thaksin said APEC leaders had talked about the crisis over lunch Tuesday and backed resumption of the six-party talks, which were hosted previously by China, North Korea's neighbor and ally.

Ahead of their closing session, the leaders gathered in an ornate royal palace for a group photograph. Following long-standing tradition, they wore shirts of the host country — in this case, tailored Thai silk ones, featuring animal and floral patterns.