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Support democracy in West Asia: Bush

While addressing the UN General Assembly opening, he urges nations to adopt policies curbing extremism.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2006 13:03 IST

US President George W Bush on Tuesday urged the world community to support democratic reforms in the Middle East, saying that after decades of trying to maintain status quo in the region, it was still not stable.

"The reality is the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage," he said in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

The president said democratic progress was being made in countries like Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen.

"Some of the changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, but they are real."

"These are important steps, and the governments should continue to move forward with other reforms that show they trust their people," he added.

Bush's annual address at the opening of the General Assembly was dedicated to promoting his freedom agenda for the Middle East and urging others nations to adopt his policies aimed at giving hope to younger generations in order to prevent them from being persuaded by extremism.

"We know that when people have a voice in their future, they are less likely to blow themselves up in suicide attacks," he said.

Bush strongly criticised Iran and Syria for repressing their citizens while fuelling instability and terrorism in the Middle East.

"To the people of Syria, your land is home to a great people with a proud tradition of learning and commerce," Bush said. "Today, your rulers have allowed your country to become a crossroad for terrorism."

In a message to the Iranian people, Bush said: "The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons."