US President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged compassion for the needy and pressed the global community to "put the terrorists on notice" by cracking down on any activities that could incite deadly attacks.
Bush, addressing more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings gathered for three days of UN General Assembly meetings, was seeking to sell his blueprints for spreading democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, overhauling the UN and expanding trade.
"The terrorists must know that wherever they go they cannot escape justice," Bush said to world leaders.
Bush pressed for Security Council approval of a resolution calling upon all nations to take steps to end the incitement of terrorist acts and asked nations to agree to prosecute and to extradite anyone seeking radioactive materials or nuclear devices.
"We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world," Bush said. "Confronting our enemies is essential, and so civilized nations will continue to take the fight to the terrorists."
Bush urged the elimination of agricultural tariffs and other barriers that he said distort trade and stunt development. The goal, he said, is to open markets for farmers around the world.
"Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: the US is ready to eliminate tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same," Bush said. "It's the key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations. It's essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations. By expanding trade we spread hope and opportunity to the corners of the world and we strike a blow against the terrorists who feed on anger and resentment."
Bush gave his annual speech to a packed hall in which there is dissatisfaction that the American president does not support an international treaty on global warming and has not promised to donate foreign aid at a level more proportionate to other rich nations.
But Bush tried to impress upon his audience the urgency of addressing the world's problems as he sees them.
He asked world leaders to partner in his second-term pledge to spread democracy, even in unlikely or unreceptive places, and touted US efforts to battle AIDS in Africa and prevent a bird flu pandemic.
Seeking broader support for US engagement in Iraq, Bush said the whole world has a stake in fostering democracy there. "The UN and its member states must continue to stand by the Iraqi people as they continue their journey," he said.
"It's an exciting opportunity for all of us in this chamber," he told an assembly of nations, many of whom had bitterly opposed the US decision to go to war.
Bush switched to diplomatic duties after two weeks of nearly constant attention to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. He held a White House meeting Tuesday with Iraq's president before flying to the UN headquarters in New York for the speech and one-on-one talks with allies. He continues the diplomacy Friday with a session back in Washington with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Katrina problem won't be far away, however. Bush scheduled a prime-time address from Louisiana on Thursday night and he gave it top billing in his General Assembly speech, thanking world leaders for their outpouring of money, equipment and other aid.
Bush arrived in New York with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and the perception that his administration had mishandled hurricane relief. He said he took responsibility for whatever had gone wrong.
The degree to which Katrina's impact was felt throughout the summit was apparent when it was the first thing Chinese President Hu Jintao brought up at the start of his meeting Tuesday with Bush.
"May the American people overcome the disaster and renew their beautiful homes at an early date," Hu said through a translator, to a grim nod from Bush.
From Hu, Bush won a pledge to step up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. But the Chinese leader did not embrace a US proposal to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions for its nuclear programs, said Mike Green, the National Security Council's senior director for Asia.
After his speech Wednesday, Bush was sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is fresh off his historic evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. Israel withdrew the last of its troops from Gaza on Monday and handed control to the Palestinians, a move that is seen as a test for Palestinian aspirations for an independent state.
However, chaos has followed as abandoned settlements were looted and thousands rushed back and forth across the Gaza-Egyptian border.
Bush wants Israel and the Palestinians to commit themselves to executing a blueprint or roadmap toward negotiations on an overall accord.
Sharon let it be known on his trip to New York that he was agreeable, but he also does not shrink from expanding Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, already one of the staunchest allies of the president's foreign policy, were meeting with new affinity over the anti-terror battle since the deadly bus and subway bombings in London in July.
The president's attendance at the UN meetings came as leaders were being presented with a plan for addressing poverty and reforming the world body, which the Bush administration has long viewed as ineffective bureaucracy in dire need of a management overhaul.
But the final document was stripped of the most ambitious goals, for example leaving out a definition of terrorism, any mention of nuclear nonproliferation and details on how to replace the discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, and diluting the section on making over UN management.
(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies, September 15, 2005)