President Bush hailed recent moves toward democracy across the Middle East on Saturday while pressing his demand that Syria withdraw from Lebanon and prodding Palestinians to dismantle terrorist organizations.
“The world is now speaking with one voice to ensure that democracy and freedom are given a chance to flourish in Lebanon,” Bush said in his weekly radio address.
He used the address to survey the changing landscape in recent months across a region in which he says “freedom is on the march.”
Bush cited successful elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq. He also cited peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Beirut, the Lebanon capital. “And steps toward democratic reform in Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The president has made spreading democracy abroad a key second-term foreign policy goal.
On Lebanon, he noted that French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have joined him in demanding that Syria withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
“Syria has been an occupying force in Lebanon for nearly three decades, and Syria’s support for terrorism remains a key obstacle to peace in the broader Middle East,” Bush said.
He praised Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts to restore law and order and to pursue reforms.
“And the first reform must be the dismantling of terrorist organizations,” Bush said. “Only by ending terrorism can we achieve our common goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and freedom.”
“Spreading freedom’s blessings is the calling of our time. And when freedom and democracy take root in the Middle East, America and the world will be safer and more peaceful,” he said.