For the first time in its 12-year history, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) group has issued a political statement to denounce terrorism. The high-profile stance taken by leaders of the 21 member economies after their annual summit, held this year in Shanghai, underlines their joint concern about the threat that terrorism poses to world peace. But the carefully drafted statement has also revealed the sharp differences that still divide them over this issue. However hard US President George W. Bush might have tried to convince the world that Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the statement made no mention of the Saudi rebel or the Taleban regime that harbours him. Although America has tried hard to give its military action in Afghanistan a multi-national look by involving its allies, the Apec statement has asked the United Nations to play a major role in the counter-terrorism effort. That is a rebuke for the world's greatest power as it tries to dispense its brand of justice by flexing its military muscle. Indeed, although President Jiang Zemin, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr Bush tried to project a spirit of co-operation on the anti-terrorism front, each was keen to put on record his own reservations. Both Mr Jiang and Mr Putin made veiled references to terrorist acts committed by separatists in their respective countries, while Mr Bush warned the war on terrorism must not be an excuse to persecute minorities. The leaders agreed to implement a range of measures aimed at countering terrorism, such as enhancing co-operation to improve air and border security, and developing a global electronic Customs network. Yet, until the ideological, ethnic or religious aspirations that drive vulnerable groups to use terrorism to advance their objectives are addressed - an impossible mission for Apec given its composition - the threat of terrorism will remain.