(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
President Bush, who once expressed disdain for the United Nations, says multinational organizations are now "needed more than ever" to combat terrorists and extremists who are threatening world order.
In his eighth and final speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Bush said the international community must stand firm against the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. He scolded Russia for invading neighboring Georgia. And he said that despite past disagreements over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, members of the U.N. must unite to help the struggling democracy succeed.
Bush also urged the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to focus less on bureaucracy and more on results.
Earlier today, Bush expressed sorrow for the victims of a deadly truck bomb that devastated a Marriott hotel in Islamabad and acknowledged tensions over U.S. military incursions into Pakistani territory.
Publicly, Bush and President Asif Ali Zardari, who met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, exhibited a show of solidarity against extremists. Privately, the two leaders must try to craft a delicate strategy to make progress in fighting militants while keeping U.S.-Pakistan relations on an even keel until Bush leaves office in four months.
Pakistan is under growing pressure from the United States to act against al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents along its border with Afghanistan, a staging ground for attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan and bombings in Pakistan. Pakistan accuses the U.S. of violating its sovereignty.
"Your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," Bush said before the meeting.
"Pakistan is an ally, and I look forward to deepening our relationship. We'll be discussing, of course, how to help spread prosperity. We want our friends around the world to be making a good living. We want there to be economic prosperity and we can work together, and of course we'll be talking about security."
Bush expressed condolences for the friends and relatives of the more than 50 people killed and hundreds others who were wounded in the Marriott bombing on Saturday that rocked the nation. "I know that you, your heart went out to the families of those who suffer and so does the collective heart of the American people," Bush said. "We stand with you."
Bush also spoke of how Zardari buried his own wife - assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto - in December. Bush recalled meeting Zardari's children this summer at the Olympics in Beijing. "It reminded me about the great suffering that they and you have been through with the loss of your beloved wife, and I thank you very much for staying involved in public service to honor her legacy," Bush said.
Zardari said democracy is the answer for Pakistan.
"We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We've got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion," Zardari said. "That's what my wife's legacy is all about. That's what democracy is all about - to take difficult decisions and do the right thing for the people of our country and our two great nations. We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world."
But with little political clout and support from the Pakistani military, it's unclear whether Zardari will be capable of rooting out extremists.
Pakistani officials said Tuesday that its security forces backed by helicopter gunships and artillery killed more than 60 insurgents in the nation's northwest tribal regions in offensives aimed at denying al-Qaida and Taliban militants safe havens.
In the nearby Bajur tribal region, security forces killed at least 10 militants during an ongoing offensive there, government official Iqbal Khattak said. That operation, which began in early August, has won praise from U.S. officials worried about rising violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But it has also triggered retaliatory suicide bombings elsewhere in Pakistan.
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