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US working with India to promote democracy in Asia: Bush

May 02, 2008 10:33 IST

Expressing concern over the situations in Tibet and Myanmar, President George W Bush has said that the United States is working with India to promote democracy and peace throughout Asia.

"We are working with India to promote democracy and the peace it yields throughout the continent. We are working together to extend the hope of liberty throughout Asia," Bush told a gathering, which included prominent Indian Americans, in Washington on the occasion of the Asian American Heritage month.

"I know you share my concerns about the situation in Tibet. I welcome the recent statements by the Chinese government expressing its willingness to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama -- precisely what I have suggested to President Hu Jintao do. I think it's important that there be a renewed dialogue and that dialogue must be substantive, so we can address the real way," Bush said.

"In Burma (Myanmar), the brutal military regime continues to reject the clear will of the Burmese people to live under leaders of their own choosing. So, over the past eight months, my administration has tightened sanctions on the regime. We've imposed visa bans on the junta's generals and their families and their cronies, trying to send a clear message -- and we hope the rest of the world follows as well," he said.

"Today, I've issued a new executive order that instructs the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of Burmese state-owned companies that are major sources of funds for the junta. I'm sending yet another clear message, that we expect change and we expect these generals to honour the will of the people," the President said.

In his opening remarks, Bush recalled the contributions of the Asian Americans, stressing the vibrancy the community had brought in.

"More than 15 million Americans claim Asian or Pacific ancestry. They make America's culture more vibrant, and we're a better place -- and a more lively place, I might add -- from Songkran celebrations in Los Angeles to Chinese New Year parties in Chicago to Diwali festivals right here at the White House," Bush said.

"Asian Pacific Americans make our country more competitive. It turns out that there's a great entrepreneurial streak that runs throughout the citizens whom we honour today. Small business owners all over America are creating new jobs and are living the dream. They enrich America because of their love for America," he said.

"Many Asians have settled in this country after fleeing oppressive regimes. They looked at America as a hopeful place. They include the Boat People of Vietnam, men and women who escaped the Killing Fields of Cambodia, those who endured the Cultural Revolution in China, and victims of the regime in North Korea," Bush pointed out.

"America must always remember that we are a place of hope and freedom for people who live in oppressive societies," he added.

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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