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Bush pledges aid to bolster Middle East peace

Bush pledges aid to bolster Middle East peace
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US President George W Bush concentrated on social security reform in his annual state of the union address to the US Congress. Away from the domestic agenda his focus was on the Middle East peace process and Iraq. “We will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces – forces with skilled officers, and an effective command structure,” he said. “As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role.”

“In the end,” he continued, “Iraqis must be able to defend their own country and we will help that proud nation defend its liberty.” As for the Middle East, President Bush pledged a larger than expected aid package for the Palestinian Authority. “To promote this democracy,” he said, “ I will ask congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic and social reforms. The goal of the democratic states of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace is within reach.” Bush also underlined the need for diplomacy in dealing with Iran, which he called, “the world’s primary state sponsor of terror.”