Outgoing US President George W Bush stressed ahead of his trip to Peru to attend the annual APEC Leaders' Meeting that he has not neglected relations with Latin America, as many critics have claimed, dpa reported.
"I care about our Latin American neighbours," he noted in an exclusive interview that the Peruvian daily El Comercio published in Spanish on Friday.
Bush was set to arrive in Lima Friday, ahead of a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that is to be his last international summit as US president, before handing over power to president-elect Barack Obama in January.
"It is very important for a US president to pay attention to its neighbours, because their orderly and peaceful progress is of great interest for the United States."
"I worry when I hear someone talk about the United States as the big boy in the neighbourhood, always telling people what to do in any particular country," he said.
Bush stressed his support for free trade as a key aspect of his presidency, and spoke of 13 free-trade agreements negotiated during his administration, including one with Peru, "that were a complete success."