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Bush and Singapore Leader Discuss Security

U.S. President George Bush and the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, met at the White House Friday to talk about security in South East Asia and the war in Iraq. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says there is no one with a clearer vision of the issues, complications, and opportunities in South East Asia than Prime Minister Lee.

Mr. Bush says the men discussed the stand-off over North Korea's nuclear program and uranium enrichment by Iran as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I thanked the Singaporean government and the people of Singapore for supporting a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan, which will help the people of that young democracy realize a brighter future," he said.

The president accepted the prime minister's invitation to again visit Singapore on his way to a regional economic summit in Australia in September.

Prime Minister Lee spoke of the deep friendship between the two nations.

"I thanked the president for the steadfastness and resolve with which he is tackling the very complicated problems in the Middle East, in Iraq, as well as the Israel/Palestinian issue. It is critical for us in South East Asia that America does that and that the president continues to give strong leadership on that because it affects America's standing in Asia, and the world," said Lee.

The prime minister went on to say that extremists in South East Asia watch carefully what happens in the Middle East.

He said good relations between the United States and China and Japan are critical to regional leaders because South East Asian countries want to be friends with all three and do not want to have to choose sides.

The prime minister is one of the president's biggest allies in the region and has often advised Mr. Bush about how to improve America's imagine in the Muslim world.

Since a 2004 free trade agreement, trade between the countries has grown to more than $42 billion, making the island city-state America's ninth-largest export market.

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