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APEC Wants Progress on N. Korea

President Bush and other Pacific Rim leaders urged Europe on Saturday to show new flexibility on farm subsidies, an issue that has stalled global trade negotiations.

Wrapping up their annual summit, the 21 leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum also promised to boost cooperation on fighting terrorism and preparing for a possible flu pandemic. They urged further progress at international talks on North Korea nuclear disarmament.

But it was the trade issue that dominated the two-day APEC summit, just three weeks before a key World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong.

The leaders, who clearly blamed Europe for the deadlock in remarks on the sidelines of the summit, stopped short of naming the continent in their statement on trade. Officials said it was too politically sensitive.

"We urge all other WTO members, and especially those that have the largest stake in the global trading system and derive the biggest benefits therefrom, to show the flexibilities needed to move the negotiations forward," the leaders' statement said.

Unblocking disputes over agriculture are the key to progress, the statement said.

Australia and Canada wanted the statement to name Europe as the main obstacle in the WTO, but other leaders objected because they did not want to single out any country or region, officials said.

"You don't have to name names," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo told The Associated Press, adding it was quite obvious who the statement was directed at.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush called it a strong statement. "Asian Pacific leaders are working with us toward the goal of a freer and fairer global trading system, which will benefit America and other nations around the world."

Counterterrorism, bird flu, energy security and other issues were dealt with in a separate statement. The agreements were announced after the leaders posed for a photo in traditional South Korean silk overcoats called durumagi.

About 1,000 anti-globalization protesters attempted to march to the meeting venue, a cupcake-shaped villa on the South Korean coast named "Nurimaru," or "pinnacle of the world." But they were blocked by security forces and dispersed peacefully after several hours. On Friday, police clashed with activists from a crowd of about 4,000 protesters who failed to disrupt the meeting.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said a resolution to the standoff between the two Koreas would spread peace and economic cooperation throughout the region.

"The North Korean nuclear issue is a factor of security anxiety not just for South and North Korea, but also a factor of anxiety that affects the whole of Northeast Asia," Roh told journalists after the meeting.

In a speech to U.S. troops at Osan Air Base south of the capital Seoul, Bush avoided direct mention of the North Korea nuclear issue. But he made a thinly veiled reference to Kim Jong Il's totalitarian regime as he praised democratic South Korea.

The South "is now a beacon of liberty that shines across the most heavily armed border in the world. It is a light reaching to a land shrouded in darkness," Bush said. "Together the United States and (South Korea) have shown that the future belongs to freedom, and one day all Koreans will enjoy the blessings of freedom."

Fears of a possible human pandemic spawned by bird flu have grown in recent days with China announcing its first human cases. Under a new bird flu initiative, APEC countries committed to openness and information sharing. They said they would conduct a simulation exercise early next year to test responses to a possible pandemic.

APEC's bird flu plan "commits our economies to effective surveillance, transparency and openness, and close domestic, regional and international coordination and collaboration," the leaders said.

The leaders also said they would seek to dismantle terrorist groups and counter threats from weapons of mass destruction.

They launched an initiative to protect intellectual property, seeking to stem counterfeit goods and software piracy. And they also pledged to find ways to offset the effects of high oil prices.