19 September 2006 Addressing the United Nations General Assembly today, United States President George W. Bush said peace is taking root in the Middle East and pledged further efforts to help the region’s people solidify progress.
“As liberty flourishes, nations grow in tolerance and hope and peace,” he told leaders assembled for the annual general debate. “And we're seeing that bright future begin to take root in the broader Middle East.”
Among other developments, he cited the democratic government in Iraq, recent presidential elections in Algeria, and the political enfranchisement of women in Kuwait. President Bush called on those present to “stand with democratic leaders and moderate reformers across the broader Middle East.”
He went on to speak directly to the people of the region, hailing the bravery of Iraqis during elections and pledging to help secure international assistance, working with the UN and through the International Compact with Iraq.
Mr. Bush also praised the people of Afghanistan for choosing leaders in a democratic election. Noting that 40 countries are helping Afghans from those seeking to overthrow their Government, he said: “We'll help you defeat these enemies and build a free Afghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven for terrorists.”
Addressing the Lebanese people, he said: “We see your suffering, and the world is helping you to rebuild your country, and helping you deal with the armed extremists who are undermining your democracy by acting as a State within a State.” The UN international force should help “restore Lebanese sovereignty over Lebanese soil.”
The US leader offered praise for Iran’s rich history, vibrant culture, and many contributions to civilization but spoke out against the present Government. “Your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons,” he said, calling for Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions and pledging American support for a diplomatic solution.
President Bush called for Syria’s Government to “choose a better way forward by ending its support for terror.” He also urged the bolstering of the African Union force in Darfur, Sudan. “To increase its strength and effectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support,” he said.
On the Middle East, he said the US Secretary of State has been instructed “to lead a diplomatic effort to engage moderate leaders across the region, to help the Palestinians reform their security services, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their efforts to come together to resolve their differences.”