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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 09:53 GMT
Bush urges end to oil 'addiction'
US President George W Bush gives his State of the Union address

President George W Bush has warned the US must break its "addiction" to oil, in his State of the Union address.

He said the US was too reliant on oil, often from "unstable" countries, and had to find alternatives.

The Middle East featured strongly in the speech, in which Mr Bush warned of "danger and decline" if the US failed to face up to outside threats.

Security and the economy were also dominant themes of the speech, at the start of a critical election year.

In his televised, prime-time address, Mr Bush described the nation's dependence on imported oil as "a serious problem".

"The best way to break this addiction is through technology," he said, pledging to seek a 22% increase in funding for clean energy research, including nuclear and renewable energy.

He said he was aiming for a 75% cut in US oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

'Winning in Iraq'

Warning against isolationism, Mr Bush said the only way to "secure the peace" and protect Americans would be through leadership.

The only way to control our destiny is by our leadership
President George W Bush

He vowed to fight to defend freedom, whose advance was "the great story of our time".

Mr Bush described Iran as a nation "held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people".

He urged Iranian citizens to assert their freedom from their rulers, and said "the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons".

He called on the Palestinian election victors, Hamas, to "recognise Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace".

US lawmakers react to State of the Union speech

US-led forces were winning the war in Iraq, Mr Bush insisted, saying a hasty withdrawal would "abandon our Iraqi allies... and show that a pledge from America means little".

One of his sternest critics on Iraq, Cindy Sheehan, whose son died there on US active service, was arrested in the Capitol building before the speech got under way, reportedly because she was wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan.

Deficit cut

Mr Bush also made reference to the controversial issue of human cloning, saying legislation would be drawn up to prevent "the most egregious abuses of medical research - human cloning in all its forms", the president said.

Addressing the country's financial situation, Mr Bush said the US must take on new entrants to global markets, not resort to protectionism.

Other Opec suppliers are Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela
Other leading non-Opec suppliers include Angola, Russia and the Virgin Islands
"The American economy is pre-eminent - but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India.

"We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy - or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity," he said.

He promised to reduce spending by cutting 140 non-security related government programmes, in an effort to reduce the mammoth budget deficit.

A Democrat congressman, Lloyd Doggett from Texas, called the speech "more of a state of his personal self-denial... whether it's the disaster in Iraq, the mess that he's made of our budget or the terrible cost of corruption that is plaguing this administration".

Mr Bush has been enduring a prolonged slump in public support amid ongoing conflict in Iraq and political strife at home, with his approval ratings hovering around 41%.

Correspondents say he has suffered a series of embarrassments in domestic policy during the past 12 months, and that few of the reforms touted in last year's speech have been achieved.

The president was also criticised amid administration mishandling of the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in August. In his speech he said New Orleans was being slowly rebuilt.

A series of scandals have increased domestic pressure on Mr Bush's Republicans, who are defending a majority of seats in both houses of Congress in mid-term elections this November.

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