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Bush to Make Major Speech on Democracy in Mideast - 2003-11-05

White House aides say President Bush will make a major speech Thursday on the move toward democracy in the Middle East. He will talk about the opportunities for change that now exist in the region.

On the eve of the speech, the White House took the unusual step of inviting a small group of reporters to get a preview from national security advisor Condoleezza Rice.

She told them the president will call for swifter democratic reforms in the Middle East. But she made clear he does not want countries to necessarily copy western ways. As she put it freedom will find its own voice in the region.

Ms. Rice said the president will talk about the importance of recent developments in Afghanistan and Iraq. She said he will seek to put the move for change there in a large, regional context.

The speech will be delivered to the National Endowment for Democracy, a non-profit group based in Washington. Condoleezza Rice said the president's goal will be to associate the United States with people who seek freedom, and says he believes such change can occur.