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Bush Defends US Policy on Iraq, Promotes Democracy in UN Speech  - 2004-09-21

President Bush did not refer directly to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's comment last week that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. But he said the U.N. Security Council had threatened the former Iraqi regime with serious consequences if it defied past resolutions, and said the U.S.-led coalition had in his words, "enforced the just demands of the world."

In a address to the General Assembly, Mr. Bush urged the world community to rally around the U.S. backed governments of Iraq and Afghanistan in the face of terrorists aiming to disrupt their coming elections:

"We can expect terrorist attacks to escalate as Afghanistan and Iraq approach national elections," Mr. Bush said. "The work ahead is demanding. But these difficulties will not shake our conviction that the future of Afghanistan and Iraq is a future of liberty."

Mr. Bush said the advance of liberty is the path to a safer and better world, and proposed establishing a Democracy Fund within the United Nations to promote the rule of law and democratic institutions.

President Bush also defended the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, saying like Iraq, the country is on the road to freedom.

He urged the world community to do more to fight terror and address humanitarian concerns such as poverty, AIDS and human trafficking.

on the Middle East, President Bush is urging Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mr. Bush said Israel should impose a settlement freeze, and dismantle unauthorized outposts set up by Israeli settlers.

Israel has announced plans to pull out of Gaza, but said last month that 500 new settler homes will be built in the West Bank.

In remarks directed at Arab countries, Mr. Bush today called on Middle East governments to renounce ties to terrorist groups. He said world leaders should pull their support for any Palestinian leader who "fails his people and betrays their cause" - an apparent reference to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has urged the Sudanese government to honor a cease-fire agreement and stop the killing in the western Darfur region.

Mr. Bush also congratulated the U.N. Security Council for passing last week's resolution threatening Khartoum with a possible oil embargo unless it improves security in Darfur.

Opening the session, U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan said international law is being "shamelessly disregarded" around the globe. He added that no country is above the law, whether at home or abroad.

He told the assembly that rape has been used as a deliberate strategy to displace the population of Darfur. He also said the United Nations must strongly support efforts by the African Union to end the crisis.

The U.N.'s top human rights official, Louise Arbour, is currently on a fact-finding mission in the region. She told British radio Tuesday that Arab militiamen responsible for atrocities against civilians are now guarding displaced persons camps and are being used in Sudan's police force.