Bush seeks to assure world on US economy
In his last speech to the UN as US president, he tells world leaders the US is taking ‘bold steps.’
New York -- President George W. Bush sought to allay worries over the US economy during a speech at the United Nations Tuesday, while reminding the body of its obligations to confront terrorism and promote democracy around the world.
Bush was addressing the UN General Assembly amid turmoil in international markets over the faltering economy, caused by the crisis in financial institutions that has prompted the largest US government intervention in history.
"Our economies are more closely connected than ever before," Bush said in his final speech to the UN before he leaves office in January. "And I know that many of you here are watching how the United States government will address the problems in our financial system. In recent weeks, we have taken bold steps to prevent a severe disruption of the American economy, which would have a devastating effect on other economies around the world."
The Bush administration has proposed a $700-billion plan to rescue the financial industry and buy up mortgages and other failing assets to prevent a broader collapse of the economy and ensure borrowing credit remains available.
Returning to the theme that marked his first speech to the General Assembly only weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush called on the UN to live up to its obligations to confront extremism.
"Instead of only passing resolutions decrying terrorist attacks after they occur, we must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening in the first place," Bush said.
He emphasized that nations have a responsibility to ensure terrorists cannot find safe haven on their soil, and called on countries to combat arms proliferation, human trafficking and organized crime.
Terrorists reject the moral teachings of all religions and have no regard for the value of human life, the president said: "They reject the words of the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, or any standard of conscience or morality. By deliberately murdering the innocent to advance their aims, these extremists defy the fundamental principles of international order."
Bush accused Iran and Syria of sponsoring international terrorism and said UN nations must enforce Security Council sanctions against Iran and North Korea for their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
"We must remain vigilant against proliferation by fully implementing the terms of Security Council (resolutions) and enforcing sanctions against North Korea and Iran," he said. "We must not relent until our people are safe from this threat to civilization."
Bush's comments came a day after North Korea took steps to resume work at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, a move that appears to halt the implementation of a disarmament agreement with the US and four other countries: China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
The US has begun discussions with permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany about the possibility of enacting another round of sanctions against Iran over the Islamic state's refusal to comply with the council's demands to suspend uranium enrichment.
The US and its European allies suspect Iran is seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons by enriching uranium, while Tehran maintains the process is solely for producing energy.
Bush also touted the successes of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and said progress was being made to stabilize those countries.
"Over the past seven years, Afghanistan and Iraq have been transformed from regimes that actively sponsor terror to democracies that fight terror," Bush said.
Bush launched the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq without the support of the Security Council, which refused to endorse the mission. He said, however, that countries must support the new Iraqi government despite his controversial decision to invade.
"Whatever disagreements our nations have had on Iraq, we should all welcome this progress towards stability and peace, and we should stand united in helping Iraq's democracy succeed." Bush said.