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Bush says Iran threat to world security
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1953 days ago | Sunday, 13th January , 2008 , 18:46 [pm] | International
|.|| President George W. Bush said on Sunday that Iran was threatening security around the world by backing “extremists” and urged its Gulf Arab allies to “confront this danger before it is too late.”
Speaking in Abu Dhabi
President George W. Bush said on Sunday that Iran was threatening security around the world by backing “extremists” and urged its Gulf Arab allies to “confront this danger before it is too late.”
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the third stop of his tour of Arab allies, Bush said that Shi’ite Muslim Iran was the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism and accused it of undermining peace by supporting the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Shi’ite militants in Iraq.
“Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late,” he said in his keynote speech which, with the auditorium two-thirds full, received only polite applause at the end.
“Iran is today the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home.”
Returning to familiar themes that have been at the core of Bush’s approach during seven years in the White House, the president praised democratization efforts in the Arab world, but acknowledged “some setbacks”. He did not name any country but cited arrests of political opponents.
Earlier in the day, Bush visited the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain amid new tensions with Iran over an incident in which Washington says its ships were harassed in the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States says Iranian boats threatened its warships on January 6 along the vital route for crude oil shipments from the world’s biggest producing region.
Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the Fifth Fleet, made it clear to Bush his forces took the incident “deadly seriously,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters.
“All of the people in the military remember what’s happened in the past such as the USS Cole,” she said, referring to the attack on the U.S. warship in Yemen in 2000 using a boat packed with explosives.
During a stop in Israel at the start of his Middle East trip last week, Bush warned Iran of “serious consequences” if it attacked U.S. ships and said all options were on the table.
Tehran has dismissed the incident as routine and accused the United States of exaggerating it for propaganda purposes.
“We exercised restraint and we very calmly announced that this was a routine procedure but they tried to … raise this issue at the same time when Mr Bush was traveling to the region in order to paint Iran in a negative light,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.
On the visit to Bahrain, Bush entered a U.S. naval mess hall to loud applause and shouted “good morning” to the military personnel before joining them for breakfast.
In Abu Dhabi, Bush had talks with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan and Vice President and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. In the evening, Bush flew by helicopter to the president’s desert camp for a dinner of grilled meat and pita bread freshly made by Bedouin women, where he inspected half a dozen royal falcons.
He visits Dubai on Monday before going to Saudi Arabia and Egypt to drum up support for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and boost U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran.
The Bush administration has kept up a campaign of rhetoric despite a U.S. intelligence report in December that concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear arms program in 2003.
Tehran says it wants nuclear technology for civilian reasons and agreed on Sunday to clarify the remaining questions about nuclear work in the next month, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said.
Bush insists that Iran remains a threat. Washington’s Arab allies say they share U.S. concerns about Tehran’s growing regional influence but want containment without resort to military force.
Iran’s Hosseini said U.S. efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic had failed as Gulf Arabs had been actively engaging it.reuters, Voice of a Nation