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Bush To Urge U.N. To Fight For Freedom

President Bush will challenge the United Nations Tuesday to do more to liberate those peoples of the world subjected to tyrannical governments and suffering from violence, poverty and disease.

And some of the 192 member nations of the world body will be getting a public scolding, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Mr. Bush was expected to mention Iran in his speech to the General Assembly — but only briefly, citing Iran in a list of countries where people lack freedoms and live in fear. The White House wants to avoid giving any more attention to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose splash of speeches and interviews has dominated the days leading to the U.N. meeting.

Instead of Iran, the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma, was drawing Mr. Bush's ire. He was expected to announce new visa restrictions and financial sanctions against the regime and those who provide it financial aid.

The policies come as Myanmar's military government issued a threat Monday to the barefoot Buddhist monks who led 100,000 people marching through a major city. It was the strongest protest against the repressive regime in two decades.

Mr. Bush spent Monday trying to revive the Mideast peace process. He was reminded of the hurdles as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that a U.S. peace conference deal with "issues of substance" — a sign of old skepticism that accompanies new hope.

Late Tuesday morning, Mr. Bush planned to meet with another friend under tense circumstances, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Iraqi leader is deeply frustrated over the killing of 11 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater USA security guards.

By calling on the U.N. to take up a "mission of liberation," Mr. Bush was posing a challenge to the U.N. to uphold its original goal of ensuring freedom in many forms — from tyranny, disease, illiteracy and poverty. He was expected to lean heavily on the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights, approved more than 50 years ago.

His aim is to remind the body that the expansion of freedom is not a Western goal, nor even just a Bush doctrine, but rather one that underpins the U.N. itself. The president heads to the forum, though, with his clout weakened by the plodding war in Iraq.

His speech, said White House spokesman Dana Perino, is about "upholding the promise of the U.N. founding." Bush aides say that by design, the address will stick to broad themes.

What it is not about, Perino said plainly, is Iran.

"The president wanted this speech to focus on many other issues that are facing the world — issues that people in Sudan and Zimbabwe and Burma and countless other countries are dealing with," she said.

Still, Iran's leader, Ahmadinejad, managed to cause a stir.

In an interview with The Associated Press, he denied all the chief accusations against Iran: that it is providing weapons to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting terrorism or breaking international law by developing nuclear weapons.

Behind the scenes, the U.S. is aggressively pushing for a new round of Security Council sanctions against Iran for its defiance on the nuclear issue.

Mr. Bush did not expect to cross paths with Ahmadinejad in the U.N. building.

The Iranian leader also would not be attending the president's reception for fellow world leaders at his hotel in the evening.

"Lost in the mail," Perino said of Ahmandinejad's invitation.

Mr. Bush later will participate in a roundtable on democracy; take part in a U.N. Security Council session on crisis in Africa; host a reception; and attend a dinner of leaders.

He had spent Monday trying to add some life to the Mideast peace process.

Appearing before reporters with Abbas after an hour-long meeting that also included Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Mr. Bush didn't mention the fall conference he has championed.

He promised the United States "will be a strong partner" in establishing an independent state for Palestinians. "I believe that the vision of two states side by side in peace is achievable," Bush said.

But Abbas said the meeting should be the precursor to "full negotiations on the permanent status." A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity to more freely discuss the president's private talks, said "there will not be a negotiation" at the November meeting.

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