Bush Addresses UN
President calls for democracy in the Middle East
|President Bush addresses the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 19, 2006. (Photo: Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)|
By Suzanne Freeman
September 19, 2006
It’s a big week at the United Nations. Leaders from around the world, including U.S. President George W. Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are meeting at the UN’s world headquarters in New York City to attend the 61st session of this important global organization that promotes peace and economic development.
It is the last session for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. After 10 years as leader of the UN, Annan will step down in December.
Will Bush and Ahmadinejad meet and discuss the current tensions between the U.S. and Iran face-to-face? Not likely, say the experts. Ahmadinejad did not attend the meeting of the General Assembly during Bush’s speech. The Iranian leader was scheduled to speak later Tuesday evening, while Bush is expected to attend a state dinner at that time.
Bush addressed the trouble with Iran head-on in his 15-minute speech.
“To the people of Iran: The U.S. respects you, and we respect your country,” Bush said. “We admire your rich history and vibrant culture.”
But Iran must honor a UN resolution calling on it to stop developing nuclear capabilities, he added.
“We look to the day when you can live in freedom and America and Iran can be partners in the cause of peace,” he said.
France Helps Out
Before his Tuesday address, Bush met with French President Jacques Chirac. They discussed how to deal with Iran. Chirac and Bush differ about how to get Iran to stop its nuclear program.
Bush says Iran must first agree to stop nuclear development before there can be any negotiations. If this condition is not met, the UN should pursue economic sanctions against Iran. Chirac says negotiations should begin first, without threats. Economic sanctions would prevent Iran from trading or doing business with other countries. Such sanctions would hurt Iran’s economy.
Despite their disagreements, Bush said that he and Chirac “share the same objective.”
“Time is of the essence,” Bush said. “Now is the time for the Iranians to come to the table.”
In his speech, President Bush focused on what he calls the “freedom agenda.” He said that every nation has a stake in promoting peace and democracy in the Middle East.
“The world must stand up for peace,” Bush said.
He addressed each area of conflict in the Middle East, aiming his remarks directly at the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.
“I’m committed to two democratic states in Israel and Palestine living side by side in unity,” Bush said. He added that this achievement has been one of the “greatest goals of my presidency.”
He noted that freedom must be chosen, not enforced.
“From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making this choice,” he said in conclusion.
We will support the moderates and reformers who are working toward peace. America has made its choice. We will stand with moderates and reformers.”
Critical Thinking Question
Read today's news story, and then answer the following question.
Bush Addresses UN
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will step down in December. The UN is in the process of choosing his successor.
What do you think is the most important quality that a Secretary General should possess?
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