Bush Warns of Iran, Praises Mideast Democracy

President George Bush speaks in Dubai. i

President George Bush delivers a speech on Sunday at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Gulf region policy. Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
President George Bush speaks in Dubai.

President George Bush delivers a speech on Sunday at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Gulf region policy.

Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

President George Bush continues his Middle East tour with a stop in Dubai, where he delivered a speech Sunday in Abu Dhabi. Bush issued another warning about the dangers posed by Iran, while praising Arab efforts to promote democracy elsewhere in the region.

"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," President Bush said.

It was an important message for the president after a recent National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Michele Kelemen tells Liane Hansen.

She notes that Bush stated that his trip to the region was meant to strengthen relations in the Gulf before "it's too late," referring to growing Iranian power.

But Kelemen says this will be a tough message.

"This is a region that's very dependent on business from Iran, so if the president is trying to get them to cut ties that way, that's going to be something they're going to be very leery of doing right here. And there's also concern in the region that the U.S. might do something militarily and that's something people here have been warning him against," Kelemen says.

The president also praised Arab efforts to promote democracy in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the region.

Bush focused much more on political and economic development than in the past. For example, he called the United Arab Emirates a "modern Muslim state" that had succeeded in building a prosperous society out of the desert and had elected women to high political offices.

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