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News Briefs

Bush Reiterates U.S. Policy On Pre-Emptive Action


President Bush embarked on his longest trip to Asia on Thursday by reasserting America’s right to take pre-emptive action against its enemies, and with a warning that the world cannot allow Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to be “defined” by Islamic extremists.

Bush’s comments, in a speech here just a few hours before he departed for Japan and in comments to Asian and Australian reporters that were released by the White House, marked an assertive declaration of what he called “a new American strategy” as he headed to several countries where anti-American sentiment runs high. He told the reporters that part of his aim during the trip would be “to make sure that the people who are suspicious of our country understand our motives are pure.”

Bush rarely talks so directly about his pre-emption strategy, unveiled 13 months ago in a national security strategy that has come to define a major turn in America’s approach to the world. His comments here were notable for their timing, as he urged Asian nations to enter a new phase of a war against terrorism.

Japan-Mexico Free Trade Talks Falter


Japan’s pig farmers and orange growers proved on Thursday to have more political power than the likes of Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

With President Vicente Fox of Mexico here to sign a free trade pact with Japan, talks broke down on Thursday over Japan’s dogged defense of its pork and orange juice producers.

With Japan exporting to Mexico five times the value of Mexico’s exports to Japan, a bilateral free trade pact enjoys the overwhelming support of Japan’s industrial establishment, including all its carmakers.

“Nissan is the biggest carmaker in Mexico,” Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the Nissan Motor Co., told a news conference on Thursday before the negotiators gave up, without setting a date to reconvene. “We have the biggest market share and so a free trade agreement would be saluted by Nissan with lots of support.”

Fox, unaware that Japan’s politically powerful farm lobby was blocking an agreement, tried to soften up Japanese reporters on Thursday afternoon saying, “Pork cooked in orange juice is a delicious dish.”

But with parliamentary elections three weeks away, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party evidently feared angering its rural base. Because of districting, a rural vote can carry twice as much weight in Japan as an urban vote.

The collapse of trade talks with Mexico will crimp Japan’s new fling with trade bilateralism.

Schwarzenegger Meets Bush, ‘An Ally Of California’


Perhaps the Sacramento-Washington deep freeze has begun to thaw. After two and a half years in which requests for federal aid from Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, have largely gone unanswered from the Republican administration, it seems that the soon-to-be governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a friend in the White House.

Schwarzenegger met with President Bush for about 45 minutes on Thursday morning as Bush stopped briefly in California on his way to Asia. According to accounts from both sides, little of substance was discussed. Instead, the meeting was the beginning of a bonding ritual between two leaders who may have a lot to offer each other.

Both Bush and Schwarzenegger said they used their time to renew a relationship that began more than a decade ago when Schwarzenegger served the president’s father as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

“We did have a good visit, and during that visit I was able to reflect upon how much we have in common,” Bush said at the start of a speech on terrorism and the economy to a business group in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles. “We both married well. Some accuse us both of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps. Well, two out of three isn’t bad.”

After Astronaut’s Success, China Vows Quick Return to Space


Within hours of the safe return of the Shenzhou 5 early Thursday, China pledged to return to space in one or two years, as officials outlined a short-term space agenda that included space walks, space docking and possibly a space lab or station.

The commitment underscored the confidence and enthusiasm infused into the space program by the Shenzhou 5 mission, which established China as the third nation to send a human into space.

The astronaut, Lt. Col. Yang Liwei, is being hailed as a national hero and lavished with praise by the country’s top leaders.

“It is a splendid moment in the history of my motherland and also the greatest day of my life,” Yang, a former military fighter pilot, said minutes after landing, according to the official New China News Agency. He was quickly flown to Beijing, where he passed a physical examination.

Later, in a television interview, he described the wonders of space and also what he had not seen. “The scenery was very beautiful,” he said. “But I did not see the Great Wall.”

Zhou Xiaofei, the director of manned space engineering, listed the program’s immediate priorities as, in order, space walking, mastering the docking of space vehicles and establishing a space lab.