President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meet with senior Saudi diplomats Sunday to discuss continuing violence between Israel and Hezbollah militants across the Lebanese border. Secretary Rice then leaves for the region for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
President Bush says he is sending Rice to the Middle East to meet with regional leaders about the best way to resolve the conflict. "Secretary Rice will make it clear that resolving the crisis demands confronting the terrorist group that launched the attacks, and the nations that support it," said Mr. Bush.
That means Syria and Iran, which, the president says, have helped arm Hezbollah.
"Their actions threaten the entire Middle East, and stand in the way of resolving the current crisis and bringing lasting peace to this troubled region," he added.
President Bush continues to oppose a ceasefire that leaves Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, where it could mount further attacks against Israel. Israel's offensive started when Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers and killed eight in a July 12 raid into Israel. Mr. Bush says such a fragile ceasefire would ultimately result in more violence.
"In the long-term, this peace will come only by defeating the terrorist ideology of hatred and fear," he explained. "The world's best hope for lasting security and stability across the Middle East is the establishment of free and just societies. America and our allies will act decisively, because we know our security is at stake in this struggle, and we know the cause of freedom will prevail."
From the start of the fighting, President Bush has expressed concern about its impact on the democratically elected government in Lebanon.
In his weekly radio address, he said it is a difficult and trying time for the Lebanese people.
"Hezbollah's practice of hiding rockets in civilian neighborhoods, and its efforts to undermine the democratically elected government have shown it to be no friend of Lebanon. By its actions, Hezbollah has jeopardized Lebanon's tremendous advances and betrayed the Lebanese people," said Mr. Bush.
During her trip to the Middle East, Rice will also stop in Rome for talks with officials from a group formed to back Lebanon's government. That group includes the United States, France, Britain, Lebanon, the European Union, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Italy, the United Nations and the World Bank.
Before she leaves, she will join President Bush at the White House Sunday for talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and the head of Saudi Arabia's national security council, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Meanwhile, the Democratic radio address Saturday focused on domestic issues. Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette criticized the president's veto of a bill that would have expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
She says the action was driven by what she called cold, calculated, cynical political gain.
President Bush says the veto, his first, was motivated by his commitment to the sanctity of life, as the legislation would have allowed federal funding for a procedure that destroys human embryos in the process of extracting stem cells, which scientists say could lead to cures for disease, such as diabetes and cancer. Supporters say such research is key to medical advances, and that only donated embryos that would otherwise be thrown away would be used.