President Bush is calling on the United Nations to meet the dual challenges of fighting terrorism and eradicating poverty. In a speech to a special U.N. summit, the president also spoke of a willingness by the United States to take dramatic action on trade.
President Bush came to the United Nations at a time of great tragedy and sorrow for the American people.
He began by thanking the international community for the help given victims of Hurricane Katrina. He did so in part to make a point: that the nations of the world can do the most good when they stand as one.
"Your response, like the response to last year's tsunami, has shown once again that the world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together," said Mr. Bush.
The president made clear this unity will be essential in order for the United Nations to help tackle the big problems now facing the world.
"As we respond to great humanitarian needs, we must actively respond to the great challenges of our time,” he added. “We must continue to work to ease suffering, to spread freedom and to lay the foundations of lasting peace for our children and grandchildren."
Mr. Bush told the leaders of about 150 nations gathered at the start of the General Assembly session that the international community must remove the conditions that lead the poor and oppressed to pursue terrorism. He said terrorist attacks in virtually every corner of the globe have shown that no one can look away and ignore the hardship of others.
"We must help raise up the stagnant states and helpless societies that provide fertile ground for the terrorists,” he explained. “We must defend and extend a vision of human dignity and opportunity and prosperity, a vision far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder."
Mr. Bush talked about a number of efforts already under way to help impoverished countries, such as the U.S. program to combat AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, and the debt relief effort recently endorsed by the leaders of the world's richest democracies and Russia, the so-called Group of Eight.
He also stressed the importance of international trade, saying the elimination of trade barriers could lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the next 15 years.
The president spoke of U.S. support for the current round of global trade negotiations and promised dramatic action by the United States if other countries follow suit.
"The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same,” added Mr. Bush. “This is key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations."
President Bush noted the United Nations was formed to fight poverty and disease and help secure human rights and dignity for all. He said in order to fulfill these goals, the U.N. must adopt reforms, be free of corruption and accountable to the people it serves.