UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — US President George W. Bush on Tuesday acknowledged growing resistance to his financial bailout plan but promised worried world leaders Washington will act "in the urgent timeframe required."
Six years after warning the UN General Assembly it risked being "irrelevant" to global affairs, Bush warned in his farewell speech to the annual gathering that the United Nations is "needed more urgently than ever" to fight extremism.
The US president made no mention of battling climate change, a top UN priority, but accused perennial targets Syria and Iran of sponsoring terrorism and charged Russia's invasion of Georgia violated the UN charter.
"The United Nations charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small. Russia's invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words," he said, vowing to keep supporting the former Soviet republic's territorial integrity.
"Young democracies around the world are watching to see how we respond to this test," he said, naming Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Liberia and Iraq. "We must stand united in our support of the people of Georgia."
Bush also called for the full implementation of UN sanctions against North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs, warning: "We must not relent until our people are safe from this threat to civilization."
As top aides including Vice President Dick Cheney pressed wary lawmakers in Washington to pass a 700-billion-dollar financial bailout package this week, Bush said failure to act would be "devastating" to the world economy.
"I can assure you that my administration and our Congress are working together to quickly pass legislation approving this strategy, and I'm confident we will act in the urgent timeframe required," said Bush.
The vastly unpopular US president, who made no mention of the battle to succeed him in January, also cautioned against letting up in the global war on terrorism he declared after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"A few nations, regimes like Syria and Iran, continue to sponsor terror, yet their numbers are growing fewer, and they're growing more isolated," he said. "Like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world."
Six years after warning the United Nations it would be "irrelevant" if it refused to back the US invasion of Iraq, Bush said the world body must help the strife-torn country "whatever disagreements our nations have had" over the war.
"The United Nations and other multilateral organizations are needed more urgently than ever" in the global war on terrorism, he said.
With hope ebbing for a Middle East peace deal before he leaves office, Bush pressed for UN support of Lebanon and for "the people of the Palestinian territories, who deserve a free and peaceful state of their own."
Earlier, Bush held his first-ever meeting with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari amid tensions between Washington and Islamabad over alleged US strikes at suspected extremists inside Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan.
The US president expressed his "deepest condolences" over Saturday's devastating suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, which left at least 60 people dead, and declared: "We stand with you."
"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," said Zardari, widower of slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.
"That's what my wife's legacy is all about," he told Bush. "We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world," he said.
The US president began his day with a telephone call to the Dalai Lama "to express his concern" over the health of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, who cancelled a tour of Germany and Switzerland after his doctors told him to rest.
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