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U.S. Looks Forward To A Free Middle East

In a speech about the war on terror, President George W. Bush said that "the defense of freedom requires the advance of freedom:"

"By now it should be clear that decades of excusing and accommodating tyranny, in the pursuit of stability, have only led to injustice and instability and tragedy. It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors. It should be clear that the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies."

Mr. Bush said that "a critical mass of events" across the Middle East, including free elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, and demonstrations for independence in Lebanon, "are taking the region in a hopeful new direction." But Mr. Bush had strong words for the dictatorships of Syria and Iran:

"Syria, as well as Iran, has a long history of supporting terrorist groups determined to sow division and chaos in the Middle East, and there is every possibility they will try this strategy again. The time has come for Syria and Iran to stop using murder as a tool of policy, and to end all support for terrorism."

Progress in the Middle East, said Mr. Bush, is also threatened by unelected rulers seeking weapons of mass destruction:

"Today, Great Britain, France, and Germany are involved in a difficult negotiation with Iran aimed at stopping its nuclear weapons program. We want our allies to succeed, because we share the view that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be destabilizing and threatening to all of Iran's neighbors. The Iranian regime should listen to the concerns of the world, and listen to the voice of the Iranian people, who long for their liberty and want their country to be a respected member of the international community. We look forward to the day when Iran joins in the hopeful changes taking place across the region. We look forward to the day when the Iranian people are free."

President Bush said that the duty of the world's democracies is clear: "For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East."