Bloomberg: President George W. Bush said he will urge Arab leaders tomorrow to reject the regimes of Iran and Syria, calling them "spoilers" that impede progress toward a better life in the Middle East.
By Holly Rosenkrantz
May 17 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush said he will urge Arab leaders tomorrow to reject the regimes of Iran and Syria, calling them "spoilers" that impede progress toward a better life in the Middle East.
Countries in the region should "move past old grievances and embrace the changes necessary for a day when societies across the Middle East are based on justice, tolerance and freedom," Bush said today in his weekly radio address.
Bush tomorrow will address a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheik, an Egyptian resort on the shores of the Red Sea, and press for expanded political and economic freedoms as "the only way to ensure true prosperity." The forum brings together business and political leaders from around the world.
Bush is finishing up a trip to the Middle East, where he celebrated Israel's 60th anniversary and pressed for progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, urging Israelis and Palestinians to work toward an agreement on at least the outlines of a Palestinian state.
"I assured them that Israel could count on America as a strong and steady ally long into the future," Bush said in today's radio address, and discussed with the Israelis "our shared belief that a peace agreement is possible this year."
The U.S. president also visited Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and celebrated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Lebanon's Power Struggle
"We reaffirmed our shared objectives of peace in the Holy land, a secure and united Iraq and a sovereign, independent Lebanon that is free of outside interference," Bush said, referring to the power struggle between Lebanon's pro-Western government and the militant Shiite Muslim group, Hezbollah.
The Bush administration and Israel consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization in the service of Iran and Syria, both U.S. adversaries. Iran and Syria, which support Hezbollah militarily, say the U.S. wants to defang "resistance" in order to dominate the Middle East.
Bush also asked Abdullah to increase oil production. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, said it would increase crude production next month in response to rising demand from its customers and Bush's request to ease the strain of record oil prices.
Oil prices have doubled in the past year on surging demand, supply disruptions in places such as Nigeria and commodity purchases by investors as a hedge against a weakening U.S. dollar. The price surge threatens to accelerate inflation and curb economic growth.