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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 18:11 GMT
Mid-East regret at Bush address
US President George Bush
No mention of road map to peace

President Bush's State of the Union address has elicited much comment in the Middle East, from politicians and media outlets.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said it was "regrettable" Mr Bush had not mentioned the Middle East peace process, or road map.

Official commentators in the Iranian media highlight what they call the "contradictory" nature of the President's remarks.

This was a regrettable thing. We were expecting to hear something from the US President, particularly at this serious stage in the Middle East, which is witnessing very big developments. The occupation and conflicts are issues that must be settled before democracy. Democracy can come afterwards.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Al-Arabiya TV

It is very clear that President Bush will not intervene to revive Palestinian-Israeli [relations] this year, because he does not want to be blamed for doing so. This shows President Bush has distanced himself from the peace process. This is not a neutral position, or a US stand that seeks to avoid failure. This position will cover up Sharon's construction of the walls, settlement activity, the imposition of facts on the ground, and acts of aggression.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Al-Arabiya TV

They select issues that serve the presidential election campaign and ignore matters they think do not serve the campaign. Therefore, their priority is not democracy for the people of the region, or the interests of these people. Their first priority is to secure the largest possible support for the US President, through the votes of the extremist Jewish forces within the United States. This is the basic issue. The address clearly indicates that this position is not mere disregard for the Palestinian question. It actually implies a green light for Sharon and his government to continue building the racial segregation wall and to abandon the US plan, the so-called road map.

Former Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abd-Rabbo, Al-Jazeera TV

In his annual State of the Union address, Bush made contradictory remarks on various issues. Bush's comments on the so-called fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are made at a time when, thanks to America's actions, not only is the terrorist threat not curtailed across the world, but even inside America people have to put up with more yellow and orange alerts and possible terrorist attacks...

In addition, White House officials chant the slogan about combating weapons of mass destruction at a time when America and the Zionist regime possess the biggest stockpiles of conventional weapons as well as non-conventional nuclear and chemical weapons... More importantly, under the pretext of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Bush waged war against that country. However, months into the war, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

Iran TV commentator

Mr Bush tried to give the impression to the people of America that he has destroyed the roots of terrorism in the Middle East or advanced in the direction of overthrowing terrorist movements, whereas we can see that what the West calls terrorist movements are not only continuing but are also being perpetrated in the worst possible way by the Zionist regime on a daily basis...

Regarding Bush's claim about America's position being strengthened in the world, I have to say that it was the measures taken by Mr Bush and his faction that have led to increased public hatred of America, not only in the Middle East but everywhere in the world, and to many problems for America in this respect.

Iran radio commentator Mr Qannadbashi

In his State of the Union address, President Bush disclosed the broad outlines of his election campaign. He underscored his success in fighting terror and affirmed that he does not regret invading Iraq. He noted that his country does not need a 'permission slip' to wage war. His address appeared more like an election campaign speech, which elicited criticism from the Democrats, who accused him of isolating the United States from its allies. Moreover, the Palestine question was not mentioned in his speech.

Abu Dhabi TV announcer Hanadi Zaydan

President Bush has declared that the United States will never ask permission from anyone to go to war in order to ensure its security. In his annual State of the Union address, Bush defended the US war in Iraq and said that US forces will not withdraw before they accomplish their work. He also noted that Libya's decision to abandon developing weapons of mass destruction vindicates his decision to launch a war on Iraq.

Al-Jazeera TV anchor Abd al-Qader Ayyad

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