What Will Top President Bush's Agenda as He Heads to Asia?

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This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Nov. 14, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

BRIT HUME, HOST: President Bush headed off to Asia Monday morning for talks with U.S. allies and others while avian flu and the Iraq War will be part of the agenda, FOX News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron, who is already there reports matters of state will be part of the agenda.

Carl is standing by in Kyoto—Carl.


Well, the president will be arriving here later this morning, local time. And this whole trip is focused largely on trying to liberalize trade relations between a number of Asian nations, not only among themselves, but with the United States. As well as trying to stem the pandemic threat of a potential bird flu pandemic around the world.

He’ll be meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, a long-time friend. A lot of talk about trade regarding that, in so far as the United States would very much like Japan to drop its embargo against U.S. beef, an embargo that began almost two years ago, during the Mad Cow scare.

The president has argued that it’s time for that to be dropped. An in fact, the Japanese health commission has actually given U.S. beef a clean bill of health. But politicians here have yet to actually change that.

The president will then move on to South Korea for the APEC conference, 21 Asian nations getting together. Much of this trip is largely diplomatic and building on alliances.

There won’t be a great deal of new policy or any particular new initiatives put forth by the administration. And as they work to liberalize trade throughout Asia, there will also be an emphasis on trying to increase security.

The president will give a major speech on democracy and how the U.S. and Asian alliances can be improved. But, as trade barriers are dropped, there is a growing concern that goods and people will be crossing borders. So, there will be a request to renew a commitment to stop weapons proliferation, interdict terrorism efforts, as well as increase health standards at border crossings, again, with an eye toward the pandemic threat of potential bird flu.

HUME: And briefly Carl, what kind of reception is the president expected to get both in Japan and elsewhere?

CAMERON: Well, in Japan and Mongolia, the last stop on his four- nation trip, it will be fairly — a good welcome. Nothing like what happened in Latin America last week when the president was down there on a trade mission.

And the U.S. efforts to liberalize trade in South America were essentially shot down. There will be some resistance. Already, some sort of disciplined demonstrations underway in South Korea for the APEC summit. But all in all, the administration making the point that this is not one where there’s going to be a tremendous amount of new initiatives put forth. An exercise really, in trying to strengthen existing alliances and implement existing plans.

HUME: Well, what about that relationship with Koizumi and Japan? I assume that — it sounds to me as if that’s a relationship the administration is hoping after the disagreements in South America to show off?

CAMERON: And the president will urge Koizumi, who was recently reelected, to use his election mandate, as the administration calls it, to again push for more liberalized trade. Starting out in Japan, one of the world leaders the president counts among his strongest friends.

From here, he goes to South Korea and ultimately to China, where he’ll be meeting with President Hu Jintao and there, the trade negotiations are expected to be a lot less fruitful than any of the talks that he’ll be having in Japan.

HUME: So, at the end of the day, when the president gets aboard Air Force One and flies back across the Pacific, he’s not expected to have in hand any fresh agreements, any fresh accords, any new initiatives inked, the kind that’s almost always produced on these trips, even if they are gotten up on the spur of the moment, correct?

CAMERON: That’s right. There will not be any of those, though the administration says there will be renewed commitments to increase trade and again, the emphasis on bird flu.

But this is not a trip in which they expect the president to emerge triumphant with any new revelations or new diplomacy. Merely one to get together with the APEC nations, 21 of them around the entire Asian continent.

And the president will return back to the United States where his numbers have dipped into the ‘30s. An awful lot of folks have said that these foreign trips have not given the opportunity to emerge on the world stage as the statesman he’d like to, to get above the domestic prey.

HUME: All right, Carl Cameron, thank you very much.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EDT.

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