Bush says Iran “primary state sponsor of terror”

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Reuters: U.S. President George W. Bush, who three years ago said Iran and North Korea were part of an “axis of evil,” has emphasised diplomacy in dealing with the two countries.
Bush called Iran the “world’s primary state sponsor of terror” and reiterated his accusations that the country is striving to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iran. He also promised to “stand with” the Iranian people in their quest for liberty, a veiled jab at the republic’s ruling clerics. Reuters

WASHINGTON – U.S. President George W. Bush, who three years ago said Iran and North Korea were part of an “axis of evil,” has emphasised diplomacy in dealing with the two countries.

Bush called Iran the “world’s primary state sponsor of terror” and reiterated his accusations that the country is striving to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iran. He also promised to “stand with” the Iranian people in their quest for liberty, a veiled jab at the republic’s ruling clerics.

But Bush, addressing Congress in his annual State of the Union address, talked of multilateral efforts to settle the differences with Iran.

“We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing, and end its support for terror,” Bush said.

Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney said Iran was at the top of the Bush administration’s list of world trouble spots and said Israel might “act first” to eliminate any nuclear threat from Tehran.

On North Korea, Bush referred to the administration’s aim of restarting the stalled nuclear talks involving the United States, North and South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

“We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions,” Bush said.

Iran and North Korea were included in the “axis of evil” by Bush along with Iraq in his State of the Union address of 2002, only months after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The United States invaded Iraq a year later and has been trying to put down an insurgency there ever since.