President Bush told world leaders at the United Nations today that fighting terrorism must be a global battle tied to the spread of democracy and the strengthening of developing countries through the elimination of trade barriers, poverty and disease.
"The terrorists must know that wherever they go, they cannot escape justice," Bush said, addressing some 160 presidents, prime ministers, kings and U.N. ambassadors gathered to commemorate the United Nations' 60th birthday.
"We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world," Bush said in a 20-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly. "Confronting our enemies is essential, and so civilized nations will continue to take the fight to the terrorists."
Later, Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were among those who voted unanimously in favor of a U.N. resolution urging world governments to adopt laws prohibiting the incitement of terrorism.
"We have a solemn obligation to stop terrorism at its early stages," Bush told the high-level meeting of the U.N. security council, a meeting usually attended by representatives of the leaders of the countries on the council. "We must do all we can to disrupt each stage of planning and support for terrorist tactics."
The resolution on terrorism was proposed by the British leader, who has also proposed similar laws in Britain after terrorist bombings on the London transportation system killed 52 people in London in July.
In his wide-ranging speech before the General Assembly, Bush also thanked countries who had offered help to the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and talked about the importance of supporting Iraq in its transition to democracy.
Bush said terrorism needed to be fought by spreading democracy and an ideology of hope. To that end, he said, the industrialized world should work together to combat poverty and diseases such as malaria and HIV-AIDS.
"We must change the conditions that allow terrorists to flourish and recruit by spreading the hope of freedom to millions who've never known it." Bush said.
He called for an end to trade barriers and subsidies that keep poor nations from participating in global markets and said the United States is prepared to do away with all trade barriers if other nations followed suit.
"It's the key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations," Bush said. "It's essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations. By expanding trade we spread hope and opportunity to the corners of the world and we strike a blow against the terrorists who feed on anger and resentment."
In an obvious effort to elicit broader support at the U.N. for the U.S. engagement in Iraq, Bush said the entire world has a stake in promoting democracy in Iraq.
"The U.N. and its member states must continue to stand by the Iraqi people as they continue their journey. It's an exciting opportunity for all of us in this chamber," he told the representatives of many countries who had vehemently opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Bush's comments came as more than 140 people died in a wave of suicide bombings in the Iraqi capital, one of Baghdad's bloodiest days. Insurgents targeted crowds of Iraqi civilians and at least three U.S. military convoys Wednesday.
Bush also used his speech -- and the U.N.'s birthday -- to call for reform of the United Nations, saying the global body must "live by the high standards it sets for others."
"The United Nations must be strong and efficient, free of corruption and accountable to the people it serves," he said. The United Nations, he said, "must stand for integrity" and that reforms must include measures to provide better internal oversight, identify cost savings and ensure U.N. resources are used for their intended purposes.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted to the meeting later that the United Nations had not achieved the reform many believe is required for the global body. The comments about reform came in the wake of a scandal of abuses of the U.N.'s oil-for-food program in Iraq.
Speaking about the outpouring of aid offers for the United States by other nations and international organizations in the wake of the Katrina disaster, Bush said the response showed "the world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together."