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Bush heads to Asia for diplomacy and sports

world Updated: Aug 05, 2008 15:39 IST

AP
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President George W Bush's agenda in Asia this week is front-loaded with trouble on the continent: nuclear worries, political repression, recovery from natural disaster.

Then comes plenty of sports.

Bush embarked on Monday on his last venture as president to the Far East, a trip built around the Olympic Games in Beijing. The president stops en route at an Alaskan Air Force base to speak to military personnel and get his plane refueled, then flies through the night to South Korea.

Before leaving the White House, Bush ratified a United Nations treaty intended to curb performance-enhancing drug use in sports. It ensures that the World Anti-Doping Code becomes national law and commits member nations to prevent cross-border trafficking of sporting drugs, support a national drug-testing program and withhold funding from athletes caught cheating.

The UNESCO Convention on Doping in Sport came into force early last year, but has not been ratified by all the countries that pledged to do so. Bush's signature followed Senate approval of the treaty.

"The timing of the United States' ratification, on the eve of the Beijing Olympic Games, is appropriate," Bush said in a statement. "The Convention makes clear that the use of performance enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage undercuts the positive attributes of sport."

With less than six months left in office, Bush is out to show that the United States is engaged in Asia's affairs, and that the economic and security dividends pay off back home.