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Bush reaffirms pre-emptive strikes against terrorists

Written by: Staff

Washington, Mar 17 (UNI) US President George W Bush has reaffirmed the US may consider pre-emptive military strikes 'against terrorists and enemy nations.' America makes no distinction between terrorists and countries that harbour them and it remains US policy to confront threats before they fully materialise, President Bush said.

Outlining his second term national security strategy, here yesterday, Mr Bush said the US prefers using diplomacy, to halt the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. But in the report issued yesterday, the President said the US could launch a first-strike even if there is uncertainty about the time or place of an enemy attack.

When the issue of pre-emptive strikes was raised during a briefing at the White House, Press Secretary Scott McClellan defended the policy, calling it an ''inherent right to self-defence.'' In the report, Mr Bush singled out Iran as perhaps posing the biggest threat by a single country. He also said diplomacy, to get Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions must succeed ''if confrontation is to be avoided.'' Mr Bush spoke of the threat of North Korea's nuclear program.

Iran and North Korea are in a group of seven nations denounced for what the President calls their ''despotic systems.'' Also on the list are Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe.

Mr Bush addressed administration's concerns about the Chinese and Russian government's current policies, and their effect on US national and economic security.

He criticised what he called ''old ways of thinking and acting'' by Beijing in its competition for energy resources. He said Chinese leaders are ''expanding trade, but acting as if they can somehow 'lock up' energy supplies around the world or seek to direct markets rather than opening them up.'' Reflecting on the rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, Mr Bush felt future relations would depend on how both Russia's domestic and foreign policies shape up.

He said he is worried that Russia is drifting away from democracy and the recent trends ''regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedom and institutions.'' UNI XC AD VC1110

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