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Olmert tells US Congress world must confront Iranian threat

Photo courtesy AFP
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 24, 2006
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday addressed a joint session of the US Congress and urged the international community to tackle Iran's nuclear bid.

"If we don't take Iran's bellicose rhetoric seriously now, we will be forced to take its nuclear agressions seriously later," he said.

"The international community will be judged by its ability to convince nations and peoples to turn their backs on hatred and zealotry."

In his rare speech, Olmert also vowed to push forward in peace efforts with the Palestinians.

"I extend my hand in peace to Mahmud Abbas, elected president of the Palestinian Authority. On behalf of the state of Israel, we are willing to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority."

But Olmert reiterated Israel's demand that the Hamas government in the Palestinian terroritories recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.

"In a few years they could be living in a Palestinian state, side by side in peace and security with Israel," Olmert declared to members of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

"But no one can make it happen for them unless they refuse to make it happen for themselves."

The newly-elected premier repeated Israel's commitment to the US-sponsorred roadmap to peace -- which calls for a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians -- but said Israel will not wait forever.

"Our deepest wish is to build a better future for our regions, hand in hand with a Palestinian partner," he said. "But if they refuse, we will not give a terrorist regime a veto over progress, or allow it to take hope hostage."

Among the audience in the House chamber was Vice President Dick Cheney, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Senator Hillary Clinton.

Related Links

Ex-defense secretary Perry warns against military action against Iran
Washington (AFP) May 24, 2006
Former US defense secretary William Perry cautioned Wednesday against taking any military action against nuclear renegade Iran, warning of a "horrific" backlash that could include a global Tehran-mobilized terrorism strike on the United States.

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