NEW YORK – With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the audience, President Bush used his valedictory address to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday to warn the organization to do more to reject the tyranny and terrorism that plague many U.N. member nations.
Couching his warning in flattering language about progress that has been made to prevent terrorism so far, Bush said the nations of the world must provide opportunities for its citizens to excel — free from forced labor, discrimination and oppression.
"Multilateral organizations have responsibilities. For eight years, the nations in this assembly have worked together to confront the extremists' threat. We've witnessed successes and setbacks," Bush said.
"To be successful, we must be focused and resolute and effective. Instead of only passing resolutions decrying terrorist attacks after they occur, we must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening in the first place. Instead of treating all forms of government as equally tolerable, we must actively challenge the conditions of tyranny and despair that allow terror and extremists to thrive," he continued.
Bush — fresh off a meeting with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, whose country saw 53 killed over the weekend in an attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad — made the case against inaction in the face of terrorism. He warned that tyranny is just as challenging an obstacle as terrorism.
"Syria and Iran continue to sponsor terror, yet their numbers are growing fewer. They are becoming more isolated in the world," he said. "Like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world."
Ahmadinejad issued a response, of sorts, when he took his turn addressing the General Assembly in the afternoon: He criticized the United States on a variety of fronts and declared that the "American empire" was coming to an end.
President Bush, in his address, said the U.N. must enforce sanctions against Iran and North Korea against proliferation. He also praised nations that have decided to observe democracy over autocracy.
"In this chamber are representatives of Georgia, and Ukraine, and Lebanon, and Afghanistan, and Liberia, and Iraq, and other brave, young democracies. We admire your courage. We honor your sacrifices. We thank you for your inspiring example. We will continue to stand with all who stand for freedom. This noble goal is worthy of the United Nations, and it should have the support of every member in this assembly," he said.
Stumping one angle of the "Bush Doctrine," Bush took to the world stage to promote U.S. efforts to provide opportunities for nations to continue to move toward democracy. He cited the Millennium Challenge Account, efforts to combat malaria and HIV-AIDS through the Global Fund and multilateral free trade agreements that open up markets.
The president said multilateral institutions must also not back away from challenges and should work toward measurable goals and accountability. The president pointed to the U.N.'s failure to do more for people of Darfur and Myanmar, which is recognized in the world body by the junta-sponsored Burma. He added that the Human Rights Council must stop protecting violators of human rights.
"In the 21st century, the world needs a confident and effective United Nations. This unique institution should build on its successes and improve its performance. Where there's inefficiency and corruption, it must be corrected. Where there are bloated bureaucracies, they must be streamlined. Where members fail to uphold their obligations, there must be strong action," Bush said.
Prior to his address Bush said he has spoken with world leaders who want to know whether the U.S. has the right plan to bail out Wall Street, where a collapse of the financial sector has forced a $700 billion rescue plan.
He told Pakistan's Zardari that he is confident Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's plan is "robust" enough to deal with the economic problems that spill over into the world community, and that Congress will act.
"Having spoken to the leaders of Congress from both political parties there is the desire to get something done quickly," Bush said. "Now there is a natural give and take when it comes to the legislative process. There are good ideas that need to be listened to in order to get a good bill out that will address the situation.
"But I am confident, Mr. President, as I have told you and other leaders that there will be a bipartisan bill, that the Republicans and Democrats will come together to get this piece of legislation passed which is necessary to address the financial situation and provide a rescue plan to make sure there is stability in the markets," he said.
Bush repeated his pledge to the entire General Assembly. He also urged the body to open its doors to "a new age of transparency, accountability and seriousness of purpose."
"Today the world is engaged in a time of challenge and by continuing to work together that unshakable unity of determination will be ours," he said.
Other notable leaders in attendance at the president's speech were Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and French President Nikolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy proposed an international body to review the global financial system.
In seeming contradiction to Bush's plea, the French president also said he would back freezing action at the International Criminal Court of Sudan's president al-Bashir would change its tyrannical behavior. Bashir has made no previous notable effort to relieve the suffering in Darfur despite numerous pleas.
Aside from the threat of terror, many economies around the world are affected by and dependent on the U.S. economy, so a great deal of interest has centered on how the U.S. economy will fare.
Deputy White House Secretary Tony Fratto said Bush wants to assure other leaders that the U.S. is working in bipartisan way to get legislation passed. Fratto unequivocally said there's "no question the plan will get done this week," and a sense of urgency has gripped the bipartisan consensus that action must be taken immediately.
"It would be a very very serious situation for our economy were we not to get this legislation passed," Fratto said.
In meeting with Zardari for the first time, Bush expressed condolences to the victims of last weekend's Islamabad bombing and acknowledged Pakistani concerns about that country's threatened sovereignty in a meeting with Pakistan's new president Tuesday.
Zardari is the widower of the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed late last year while campaigning against Pervez Musharraf. Her husband won the election in her stead.
Zardari spoke briefly, thanking the president for pushing democracy in Pakistan and pledging that the country, which has been racked by Taliban insurgents given safe haven by tribal leaders on its border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan's government has estimated that 90,000 people who fled recent fighting remain in North West Frontier Province along the Afghan border and a similar number are displaced in the northern part of the province. The U.N. refugee agency is asking for $17 million to help 300,000 refugees.
"Democracy is the answer. We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We've got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion. That's what my wife's legacy is all about. ," he said.
Bush said Pakistan is an ally, and talks between the two leaders will focus on spreading prosperity.
"We want our friends around the world to be making a good living. We want there to be economic prosperity and we can work together, and of course we'll be talking about security. And your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," Bush said.
FOX News' Anne McGinn and Kelly Chernenkoff contributed to this report.