US working with India to extend “hope of liberty” in Asia: Bush

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : President George Bush has said the US is working together with India to promote democracy and extend the “hope of liberty” throughout Asia even as it’s concerned over the situations in Tibet and Myanmar.

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“We’re working with India to promote democracy and the peace it yields throughout the continent,” Bush told a gathering that included prominent Indian Americans on the occasion of the Asian American Heritage month. “We’re working together to extend the hope of liberty throughout Asia.”

Welcoming the recent statements by the Chinese government expressing its willingness to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama, Bush said it was “precisely what I have suggested President Hu Jintao do.”

“I think it’s important that there be a renewed dialogue and that dialogue must be substantive so we can address the real way.”

“In Burma (Myanmar), the brutal military regime continues to reject the clear will of the Burmese people to live under leaders of their own choosing. So over the past eight months, my administration has tightened sanctions on the regime.

“We’ve imposed visa bans on the junta’s generals and their families and their cronies, trying to send a clear message-and we hope the rest of the world follows as well,” he said.

“Today, I’ve issued a new executive order that instructs the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of Burmese state-owned companies that are major sources of funds that prop up the junta. I’m sending yet another clear message, that we expect there to be change and we expect these generals to honour the will of the people,” the president said.

Recalling the contributions of the Asian Americans, he stressed the vibrancy more than 15 million Americans claiming Asian or Pacific ancestry had brought in.

“They make America’s culture more vibrant, and we’re a better place-and a more lively place, I might add-from Songkran celebrations in Los Angeles to Chinese New Year parties in Chicago to Diwali festivals right here at the White House.

“Asian Pacific Americans make our country more competitive. It turns out there’s a great entrepreneurial streak that runs throughout the citizens whom we honour today, Bush said. “Small business owners all over America are creating new jobs and are living the dream. They enrich America because of their love for America.”

“Many Asians have settled in this country after fleeing oppressive regimes. They looked at America as a hopeful place. They include the Boat People of Vietnam, men and women who escaped the Killing Fields of Cambodia, those who endured the Cultural Revolution in China, and victims of the regime in North Korea.”

To increase security and reduce the threats to freedom in the Asia Pacific region, the US has together a multilateral Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) with more than 85 countries to stop the shipment of the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Bush said .

“In other words, this is a quest for security and freedom, and we’re working with nations all throughout the world, including those in the Asian Pacific region, to protect our peoples from the true threats of the 21st century,” he said.

“We’re working with Pakistan and Indonesia and Malaysia and the Philippines and other partners – and Singapore and other partners – to dismantle terrorist networks and to combat the ideology of the extremists,” he said.