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Bush On Middle East Changes

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, President George W. Bush said that a world beyond terror and extremism is starting to take root in the broader Middle East:

“Some of the changes in the Middle East have been dramatic, and we see the results in this chamber. Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruled by the brutal Taliban regime, and its seat in this body was contested. Now this seat is held by the freely elected government of Afghanistan, which is represented today by President Karzai. Five years ago, Iraq's seat in this body was held by a dictator who killed his citizens, invaded his neighbors, and showed his contempt for the world by defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions. Now Iraq's seat is held by a democratic government that embodies the aspirations of the Iraq people, who's represented today by President Talabani. With these changes, more than fifty million people have been given a voice in this chamber for the first time in decades.”

Elsewhere in the Middle East, said President Bush, changes are happening gradually, but they are real:

“Algeria has held its first competitive presidential election, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emirates recently announced that half of the seats in its Federal National Council will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, in parliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multiparty presidential elections in Yemen and Egypt. These are important steps, and the governments should continue to move forward with other reforms that show they trust their people.”

“Every nation that travels the road to freedom moves at a different pace,” says President Bush, “and the democracies they build will reflect their own culture and traditions. But the destination,” he says, “is the same: a free society where people live at peace with each other and at peace with the world.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.