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Bush Calls Iran's Confrontation With US Navy Vessels a Provocative Act


President Bush says Iran should not confront U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, dealing with Iran is part of the president's agenda for a trip he begins today to the Middle East.

President Bush says he does not know what Iran was thinking when five small boats confronted U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz Sunday.

The boats, apparently operated by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, veered away from the three U.S. ships after dropping boxes in their path. President Bush says it was a provocative act that should not be repeated.

"It is a dangerous situation, and they should not have done it. Pure and simple," he said.

Iran says the confrontation was ordinary and suggests it may have been a case of mistaken identity.

President Bush spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden before leaving for the Middle East where he is expected to discuss the U.S. posture toward Iran with Arab allies also worried about Tehran's desire for greater regional power.

Mr. Bush wants another round of U.N. sanctions because he says Iran is enriching uranium that could be used for nuclear weapons.

While U.S. intelligence agencies reported late last year that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program four years ago, Mr. Bush says Tehran is still a threat.

"Iran was a threat. Iran is a threat," he said. "And Iran will continue to be a threat if they are allowed to learn how to enrich uraniumfor further sanctions against Iran during stops in Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

But he begins his eight-day trip in Israel and the West Bank in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Bush is hoping to further encourage talks toward a separate Palestinian state that began less than two months ago in Annapolis, Maryland. The president says an outline for a separate Palestinian state is crucial for political moderates who are battling forces of extremism.

"They need to have a vision that is clearly defined that competes with the terrorists and the killers who murder the innocent people to stop the advance of democracy," he said.

During his trip, the president will meet with U.S. military and political leaders from Iraq, speak with women's groups in Kuwait, and visit Israel's Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

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