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Monday, May 14, 2001

InterAction Council opens summit in Awaji


Staff writer

AWAJI ISLAND, Hyogo Pref. -- The InterAction Council, a group of former heads of state and government, opened its 19th plenary session Sunday at the Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center by criticizing the United States for turning its back on a number of global issues.

In the keynote address, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who cochairs the council with former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, attacked the U.S. for its growing refusal to seek solutions to global problems through multilateral organs like the United Nations.

Fraser called on council members to support international issues ranging from the Kyoto Protocol, an international effort to tackle global warming, to South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's policy of reconciliation with North Korea. Such issues have been opposed or downplayed by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

"The supremacy of American power places very significant obligations on the United States to act with prudence and consultation. To earn respect, the U.S. must show respect," he said.

Miyazawa, meanwhile, expressed concern about the U.S. economy, saying that it deserved to be watched closely. He also expressed hope that Bush will become the compassionate conservative he campaigned as.

"I hope the new Bush administration will behave compassionately as a superpower toward weaker countries, just as President Bush has declared the administration will behave toward the less advantaged domestically," he said.

Of particular concern to many of the participants is the growing tension between the Bush administration and China. The council has officially declared in previous plenary sessions that it supports a "One-China" policy, and several council members warned that U.S. congressional support of Taiwanese independence could lead to regional conflict.

Among other items discussed during the Sunday session was United Nations reform, specifically the U.N. Security Council. The members agreed that the United Nations should be, in principle, the sole organ for international peace and security.

But opinion differed on Japan's quest for a permanent seat on the Security Council, with some saying Japan is not yet ready to play such a role.

The InterAction Council, established in 1983 by late former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, is composed of 37 former world leaders who gather each year to discuss global issues ranging from peace to population control. The summit is also known as the Old Boys (or OB) Summit.

Sixteen of the members are at the Awaji Summit, which finishes Tuesday.



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