Remarks by President Bush to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East

WASHINGTON , May 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by President Bush to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East : Laura and I are delighted to be in Egypt , and we bring with us the warm wishes of the...


The vision I have outlined today is shared by many in this region - but unfortunately, there are some spoilers who stand in the way. Terrorist organizations and their state sponsors know that they cannot survive in a free society, so they create chaos and take innocent lives in an effort to stop democracy from taking root. They are on the wrong side in a great ideological struggle - and every nation committed to freedom and progress in the Middle East must stand together to defeat them.

We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to a homeland of their own. I strongly support a two-state solution - a democratic Palestine based on law and justice that will live in peace and security alongside a democratic Israel . I believe that the Palestinian people will build a thriving democracy in which entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, families own homes in lively communities, and young people grow up with hope in the future. Last year at Annapolis, we made a hopeful beginning toward a peace agreement that will outline what this nation of Palestine will look like - a contiguous state where Palestinians live in prosperity and dignity. A peace agreement is in the Palestinians' interest, it is in Israel's interest, it is in Arab states' interest, and it is in the world's interest. And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year.

This is a demanding task, and it requires action on all sides. Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society. Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease restrictions on Palestinians. Arab states, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel . And all nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with continued acts of terror and violence.

We must stand with the people of Lebanon in their struggle to build a sovereign and independent democracy. This means opposing Hezbollah terrorists, funded by Iran , who recently revealed their true intentions by taking up arms against the Lebanese people. It is now clearer than ever that Hezbollah militias are the enemy of a free Lebanon - and all nations, especially neighbors in the region, have an interest in helping the Lebanese people prevail.

We must stand with the people of Iraq , Afghanistan , and other nations in the region fighting against al Qaeda and other extremists. Bin Laden and his followers have made clear that anyone who does not share their extremist ideology is fit for murder. That means every government in the Middle East is a target of al Qaeda. America is a target too. And together, we will confront and defeat this threat to civilization.

We must stand with the good and decent people of Iran and Syria , who deserve so much better than the life they have today. Every peaceful nation in the region has an interest in stopping these nations from supporting terrorism. And every peaceful nation in the region has an interest in opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. To allow the world's leading sponsor of terror to gain the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

The changes I have discussed today will not come easily - change never does. But the reform movement in the Middle East has a powerful engine: demographics. Sixty percent of the population is under 30 years old. Many of these young people surf the web, own cell phones and satellite televisions, and have access to unprecedented amounts of information. They see what freedom has brought to millions of others and contrast that to what they have at home.

Today, I have a message for these young people: Some tell you change is impossible, but history has a way of surprising us, and change can happen more quickly than we expect. In the past century, one concept has transcended borders, cultures, and languages. In Arabic, it is "hurriyya" - and in English it is "freedom." Across the world, the call for freedom lives in our hearts, endures in our prayers, and joins humanity as one.