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Bush to Focus on Iraq, Afghanistan During UN Speech - 2004-09-18


President Bush will focus on Iraq and Afghanistan in a speech at the United Nations this week. The president used his weekly radio address to preview those remarks.

President Bush will tell leaders gathered for the U.N. General Assembly that he will not allow violence to disrupt elections in Afghanistan next month, or a vote in Iraq scheduled for January.

"Terrorist enemies are trying to stop the progress of both those countries, and their violent and merciless attacks may increase as elections draw near," said president Bush. "But all the world can be certain: America and our allies will keep our commitments to the Afghan and Iraqi people. Our long-term security - the safety of our children and grandchildren - will be served when the broader Middle East is home to stable, democratic governments that fight terror."

At the United Nations, Mr. Bush says, he will make additional proposals to, "expand prosperity and accelerate the march of freedom."

"Never in the history of the United Nations have we faced so many opportunities to create a safer world by building a better world," he said. "For the sake of our common security, and for the sake of our common values, the international community must rise to this historic moment. And the United States is prepared to lead."

Mr. Bush has had a sometimes rocky relationship with the United Nations, questioning the body's legitimacy, if it did not support action against then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

While he did win a unanimous resolution warning of serious consequences if Saddam did not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors, the organization did not back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

With Saddam toppled, the United Nations has agreed to help with the country's transition to democracy, but that has not meant the end of the debate over Iraq. Secretary-General Kofi Annan this past week told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the U.S.-led invasion was an illegal act that violated the U.N. charter.

Mr. Annan also questioned whether there can be credible elections in four months, if security conditions do not improve.

The White House says it is still optimistic that the January electoral date can be met. Bush administration officials say the U.S. action in Iraq was clearly lawful, as it enforced at least 16 Security Council resolutions in Iraq.

President Bush will meet with secretary-general Annan on Tuesday before his address to the General Assembly. While in New York, Mr. Bush is scheduled to meet with the leaders of India, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the prime minister of the interim government in Iraq.

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