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Bush, The Middle East, And Iran

In a speech in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, President George W. Bush said the aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East for liberty and justice are threatened by violent extremists:

“They hate freedom and they hate democracy – because it fosters religious tolerance and allows people to chart their own future.”

Everywhere these men go, said Mr. Bush, they “use murder and fear to foment instability to advance their aims”:

“One cause of instability is the extremists supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran is today the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world –- while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home.”

The Iranian government is hurting many in the region and beyond, said Mr. Bush:

“It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the hope for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq. It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear programs and ambitions. Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.”

President Bush said the United States is strengthening its longstanding security commitments to allies in the region “and rallying friends to confront this danger before it is too late.” He also spoke directly to the people of Iran:

”You are rich in culture and talent. You have a right to live under a government that listens to your wishes, respects your talents and allows you to build better lives for your families. . .So we call on the regime in Tehran to heed your will, and to make itself accountable to you.”

“The day will come,” said Mr. Bush, “when the people of Iran have a government that embraces liberty and justice, and Iran joins the community of free nations. And when that good day comes, you will have no better friend than the United States of America.”