Good morning. This weekend I am on my first trip outside the United States since the election, traveling to South America for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. I am meeting with many allies and friends to strengthen our ties across the Pacific and discuss practical ways we can enhance prosperity, advance liberty, and improve our shared security.
America and the nations of Latin America and Asia share many vital interests. All Pacific nations benefit from free and fair trade, the foundation of this region's remarkable prosperity. The United States has completed free-trade agreements with nations throughout Asia and the Americas, including Australia, and Singapore, Chile, the five nations in Central America, and the Dominican Republic. We are also negotiating new agreements with Thailand, Panama and the Andean nations of South America. America has opened our markets, and I will urge other countries to do the same.
Pacific nations also have a clear interest in spreading the benefits of liberty, democracy and good government across this vital part of the world. From the recent history of the Asia Pacific region, we know that freedom is indivisible. The economic liberty that builds prosperity also builds a demand for limited government and self rule. Modernization and progress eventually require freedom in all its forms. And the advance of freedom is good for all, because free societies are peaceful societies.
America and our friends are helping other countries lay the foundations of democracy by establishing independent courts, a free press, political parties and trade unions, by instituting the rule of law and by keeping up the fight against corruption.
America joined with other members of the Organization of American States to create the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This charter recognizes democracy as the fundamental right of all peoples in the Americas and pledges our governments to promoting and defending the institutions of liberty.
All Pacific nations must also keep up the fight against the forces of terror that threaten the success of our economies and the stability of the world. At last year's summit, APEC leaders started a major initiative to strengthen the security of ports and transportation networks, to defend our aircraft from the threat of portable missiles, and to end the flow of terrorist finances. This year, APEC leaders will work together to improve the security of our ships and ports. We will develop a new system to track and stop the travel of suspected terrorists using forged or stolen documents. And we launched new programs to support APEC members that have the will to fight terror, but need help in developing the means. Terrorism is a threat not just to the West, or to the wealthy, but to every nation. And every nation must fight the murderers.
During my trip, I will also meet with President Lagos, of Chile, and President Uribe, of Colombia, to reaffirm our strong ties with those nations. Colombia is making progress in the fight against terrorists who traffic in illegal drugs, and America is standing with the Colombian government to oppose the drug trade that destroys lives in our countries and threatens the stability of our hemisphere.
In my second term, I will continue to pursue a confident foreign policy agenda that will spread freedom and hope and make our nation more secure. America seeks wider trade and broader freedom and greater security for the benefit of America, our partners, and all of the world.
Thank you for listening.