President Bush brushed aside concerns about violence and disorder in Iraq and told world leaders assembled at the United Nations that the country is making progress against insurgents.
Bush's upbeat assessment of world affairs, in general, and Iraq, in particular, contrasted sharply with assessments of diplomats and world leaders gathered for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. While others lamented spreading violence and a breakdown of the rule of law, Bush asserted that times have improved.
Later, in an appearance with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Bush dismissed questions about two Republican senators' calls for a more candid assessment of the Iraq situation and about a CIA report that warned that Iraq is in danger of further disorganization and possibly civil war.
"The Iraqi citizens are defying the pessimistic predictions," Bush told reporters.
Allawi echoed Bush's buoyant theme. "It's very important for the people of the world really to know that we are winning, we are making progress in Iraq, we are defeating terrorists," he said.
Bush's speech to the General Assembly played down his administration's past differences with the United Nations. It only briefly revisited the Security Council's refusal to authorize war in Iraq.
Bush also urged action on a range of issues that have been less polarizing at the world body: a ban on human cloning, a clampdown on human trafficking and efforts to fight AIDS, poverty and corruption.
He decried the "terrible suffering and horrible crimes" in Sudan's Darfur region and called on Israel to "impose a settlement freeze," while urging new Palestinian leadership. Bush also proposed a new "democracy fund" within the United Nations that would help with elections and other democratic processes.
-- Colum Lynch and Dana Milbank