Visiting U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday voiced his country's continued engagement in the fast growing and most dynamic region of Asia, and urged Asian countries to cooperate well with the United States on security and trade issues.
"America will remain engaged in Asia, because our interests depend on the expansion of freedom and opportunity in this region, " Bush said in a keynote speech at the National University of Singapore on Thursday night.
"We must maintain our presence in the Pacific. We must seize on our common opportunities. We must be willing to confront common threats, and we must help our partners build more hopeful societies throughout this vital part of the world. Building more hopeful societies starts with opening up to opportunities of a global trading system," Bush continued.
Bush, who is on a two-day official visit to Singapore, said that his country will work to advance trade, tackle the terrorist threat and alleviate poverty in the region.
Stressing the importance of the role played by Asian countries in reviving the Doha talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Bush said that this would be the key to meeting world economic growth goals.
Bush also regards the expansion of free and fair trade, especially through a stronger Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ( APEC), as the way to global peace and prosperity.
As for the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Bush warned that the nuclear proliferation from North Korea would not be tolerated by his country.
"America's position is clear: the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such actions," he added.
Bush also ensured that his country would give its full cooperation for alleviating poverty and preparing for pandemics like the avian flu.
Bush, who arrived here on Thursday morning, met his Singaporean counterpart, acting President J.Y. Pillay, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Both sides had a wide ranging discussion on a number of issues such as bilateral ties, trade and security.
Echoing Bush's Asian policies, Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore and the United States are close friends and strategic partners.
The Unites States should continue to play a vital role in Asia's stability and prosperity, and Singapore looks forward to greater U.S. engagement in this part of the world, he said.
Singapore is Bush's first leg of his Asian tour, and he is en route to Vietnam for the APEC summit meeting.
It is Bush's second official visit to Singapore and his previous visit was in 2003.