Bush slams Iran, lavishes praise on UAE

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Abu Dhabi, Jan 13 (UNI) US President George W Bush today slammed Iran for its alleged support to Muslim extremist outfits, Taliban and Al Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere but lavished praise on UAE, saying it was a model state for other Muslim countries.

The UAE stood out as a model for other Muslim countries and was an icon of inter-faith tolerance, Mr Bush said in a key note address delivered at the super luxury Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi today.

He criticised Iran for supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, Jihad, Taliban, Al Qaeda and its affiliates and extremist Shiites in Iraq, adding that Iran is destabilising the region by refusing to open up its nuclear programme to scrutiny.

In a pointed reference to Afghanistan, he said Taliban rules by intimidation and murder and is attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

''Reconciliation with your neighbours is the key to long-term peace in the region,'' said the US President who called for religious tolerance and co-existence among Sunnis and Shiites, according to the official news agency, WAM.

When Iran embraces liberty and democracy, it will not find a better friend than the US, he stressed.

Mr Bush said the UAE founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has succeeded in building a country out of the desert.

The UAE leadership is providing a better life for their citizens, he added.

''Extremists have hijacked Islam and they hate your government and the US,'' he said, addressing the high-profile audience which included the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Mr Bush said the US believes it is necessary for governments in West Asia to open their economies and boost liberty and tolerence.

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