In his first overseas trip since his reelection, President Bush arrived in Chile on Friday to use what he calls his "new capital" to press the 21 nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to help with North Korea, terrorism and opening up regional trade.
But Bush's Latin American trip sparked a violent backlash before he arrived. Chilean police in armored vehicles used tear gas and water cannons during the day to break up demonstrations against U.S. policy in Iraq, Bush's presence in Chile and a summit that protesters called a rich man's club.
On the fourth day of anti-American and anti-APEC protests, a crowd estimated at 25,000 to 70,000 marched through downtown Santiago. Some hooded demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Many shouted chants or held signs saying "Terrorist Bush" and "Bush: Fascist, thief, murderer."
White House officials said the most important aspect of Bush's attendance at the summit would be separate meetings Saturday with the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, the other members of six-party talks with North Korea.
"We think this meeting is going to be very important for getting these other leaders and their governments on the North Korean case," a senior administration official said after briefing Bush during his nine-hour flight from Texas.
Aides accompanying Bush to the summit aboard Air Force One said that the president believes North Korea resisted arms talks to "buy time" until after the U.S. election and that he will use the trip to prod Asian allies to renew pressure on the country to give up its nuclear weapons.
"Now that we know the results, it's time to get back to business," the senior administration official said. "They've been trying to buy time to see what would happen."
A White House official said Bush will push for a new set of six-party talks at "the earliest possible date" but will not make a specific proposal. Although some administration officials have said they want talks by the end of the year, the White House acknowledged that may not be feasible.
"The holdout party is the North Koreans. It's a matter of using leverage to persuade the North Koreans to get back to the table," the official said.
The senior administration official indicated that Bush had little flexibility in his position that the allies must insist North Korea end its nuclear weapons program. "We've put forward a realistic proposal and we're not interested in . . . sort of negotiating among ourselves," the official said.
The administration is largely dependent on China to make its case to North Korea, and officials say they don't have a concrete backup plan.
The APEC summit will also focus on how to jump-start global trade talks launched in Doha, Qatar, three years ago. Trade and foreign ministers from APEC members, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, agreed here Thursday to press for a conclusion to the World Trade Organization's latest round of negotiations.
In an effort to tighten global cooperation on terrorism, the United States, Australia and Chile announced Friday that they would develop systems for sharing passport alerts and called on other APEC members to adopt the initiative to enhance travel safety throughout the region.
Bush will be overseas until Monday. In Santiago, he will meet with the leaders of Canada, Mexico and Indonesia. He will also give a speech to corporate executives and hold a news conference with Chile's president, Ricardo Lagos. On Monday, Bush will make a four-hour stop in Colombia, where he will hold a news conference with President Alvaro Uribe. He will then head to his Texas ranch for Thanksgiving.
President Bush, who arrived Friday, is expected to press for cooperation on North Korea, the battle against terrorism and regional trade.A protester throws a bottle at a police vehicle. Officers used tear gas against the crowd, estimated at anywhere from 25,000 to 70,000. Demonstrators called the summit a rich man's club.