'Lebanon crisis presents opportunity for change'
The fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon may be "painful and tragic" but presents an opportunity for "broader change" in the Middle East which has suffered decades of "tyranny and violence," US President George W Bush said on Saturday.
Bush, in his weekly radio address, said he would work with allies to get a UN Security Council resolution mandating a multinational force in southern Lebanon and called on Iran to stop supplying weapons and financial assistance to the terrorist outfit Hezbollah.
"This moment of conflict in the Middle East is painful and tragic, yet it is also a moment of opportunity for broader change in the region. Transforming countries that have suffered decades of tyranny and violence is difficult, and it will take time to achieve. But the consequences will be profound -- for our country and the world," he said.
Bush once again called on Iran to stop supplying weapons and financial assistance to the terrorist outfit Hezbollah and for Syria to end its support to terrorism and respect the sovereignty of Lebanon.
"As we work to resolve this current crisis, we must recognize that Lebanon is the latest flashpoint in a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region. For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East, yet these policies gave us neither," Bush said.
"We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 innocent Americans," Bush said.
"We saw that when an entire region simmers in violence, that violence will eventually reach our shores and spread across the entire world. The only way to secure our Nation is to change the course of the Middle East -- by fighting the ideology of terror and spreading the hope of freedom."
"So we have launched a forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East, and that strategy has set in motion a transformation that is changing millions of lives for the better.
"We're also seeing those who oppose democracy fighting its progress with all the destructive power they can muster. We see this in Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, in the suicide bombings that kill innocent Iraqis, and in al-Qaeda's campaign of terror across the world," Bush said.
He called for an "effective" multilateral force that will not only focus on humanitarian efforts but also help the government of Lebanon to assert its full sovereignty.
Bush said his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be returning to the region this weekend and the United Nations will be looking at a Resolution that established a framework for an end to violence and mandating the international force.
"This approach will demonstrate the international community's determination to support the government of Lebanon, and defeat the threat from Hezbollah and its foreign sponsors."