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Bush To Ask World To Support Mideast Democracy

President Bush will challenge world leaders to do more to build democracy in the Middle East, when he speaks at the United Nations on Tuesday.

He will use a late-morning speech to the General Assembly to ask U.N. members for help in "encouraging the forces of moderation in this struggle against extremism" in the Middle East, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on Monday.

Previewing the speech for reporters, Hadley said Bush will discuss how establishing democracies in the Middle East has "an important part to play to give the people in the region a vision of hope and opportunity and a better future."

"He will also ... emphasize the fact that countries need to find their way toward free and just societies in their own time, consistent with their own culture and traditions," Hadley said.

And Bush will "showcase" what the administration sees as positive results from its "freedom agenda," "the most remarkable being the processes of freedom and democracy going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon," according to Hadley.

Among those in the audience is expected to be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an acerbic critic of U.S. foreign policy who has previously challenged Bush to a debate.

"I'm sure both will have minders working hard to keep them apart," said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown. "So probably, the great clash of the titans, the rumble of the jungle -- whatever you want to call it -- is not going to happen."

Ahmadinejad will address the assembly Tuesday evening.

The United States suspects Iran of using its nuclear program to develop weapons, while Tehran insists its program is only for peaceful purposes.

The U.N. Security Council had demanded that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment by August 31 or face the possibility of economic sanctions. Iran missed the deadline but said it would consider temporarily suspending its program as a condition for beginning talks with the United States. Uranium enrichment is key to producing nuclear weapons.

In an interview before the U.N. visit, Time magazine asked Ahmadinejad if Iran would suspend enrichment "as a confidence-building measure."

"Whose confidence should be built?" the Iranian leader asked.

"The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. administration is not the entire world," he said. "Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world. When I studied the provisions of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries."

In August, Ahmadinejad challenged Bush to participate in a "direct television debate with us," so Iran can voice its point of view on how to end problems in the world. The White House called the offer a "diversion" from international concerns over Iran's nuclear program, Reuters reported.

On Friday, when asked if he would meet with Ahmadinejad, Bush said, "No, I'm not going to meet with him. I have made it clear to the Iranian regime that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program, and I meant what I said."

In the Time interview, Ahmadinejad said that the Bush administration must "change its behavior, and then everything will be solved.

"It was the U.S. which broke up relations with us. We didn't take that position. And then they should make up for it," Ahmadinejad told Time.

Among the 27 world leaders speaking Tuesday, according to Reuters, are Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Thabo Mbeki, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, French President Jacques Chirac, Mexican President Vicente Fox, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Jordanian King Abdullah II Bin al-Hussein and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

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