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Laura Bush Appeals for Women's Rights in Middle East

First Lady Laura Bush addresses World Economic Forum, Saturday

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush is calling on Middle Eastern societies to provide greater rights for women.

In a speech to the World Economic Forum in Jordan Saturday, Mrs. Bush reminded delegates that freedom for women means not just the absence of oppression, but the right to speak, vote and worship freely.

The president's wife welcomed the progress toward the recognition of women in the region, particularly in such counties as Afghanistan and Kuwait.

She did not refer to Muslim outrage at allegations of U.S. military abuse of detainees and the Koran, but gave assurances that the United States is committed to religious inclusiveness and respects the traditions of all faiths.

More than 1,000 economic, business and political leaders from dozens of nations are attending the forum. Their agenda includes discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and a host of economic issues.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.