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Bush sets Goal of Peace in Middle East

President Bush says the immediate goal facing the United States and Europe is peace in the Middle East. President delivered a major foreign policy address that singled out Syria and Iran for tough criticism.

The president's words were blunt as he described threats to security in the Middle East and his hopes for peace.

The toughest words were reserved for Syria and Iran.

Speaking one week after former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a car bombing in Beirut, the president issued a stern warning to Damascus, which has thousands of troops in Lebanon.

"Just as the Syrian regime must take stronger action to stop those who support violence and subversion in Iraq, and must end its support for terrorist groups seeking to destroy the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon," said George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush made clear the stakes are high. He said Lebanon suffers under the influence of an oppressive neighbor, and the Israelis and Palestinians need no outside obstacles to peace at a time when a resolution of their long-standing conflict appears within reach.

"America and Europe have made a moral commitment: We will not stand by as another generation in the Holy Land grows up in an atmosphere of violence and hopelessness," he said.

The president called on the Palestinians to implement further democratic reforms, and stressed a successful Palestinian democracy should be Israel's goal as well.

"So Israel must freeze settlement activity, help Palestinians build a thriving economy, and ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, with contiguous territory on the West Bank," said President Bush.

Mr. Bush said the upcoming London conference on the middle east will give the United States and Europe a chance to work together to further the goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace. He said they also share a common goal in Iran.

"For the sake of peace, the Iranian regime must end its support for terrorism, and must not develop nuclear weapons," he said.

Iran says its nuclear program is designed to provide for its own energy needs. The United States has questioned that claim, saying an oil-rich nation like Iran does not need nuclear power.

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