The Washington Times - October 5, 2007, 08:22PM
President Bush

\ The transcript of the interview with Al Arabiya’s Elie Nakouzi was released this afternoon. Al Arabiya is one of the two top channels in the Middle East, and a direct competitor to Al Jazeerah, which many in the Bush administration regard as hostile to the U.S.\


\ Mr. Bush and Mr. Nakouzi walked, during the interview, from the Oval Office, out past the Rose Garden and to the Map Room, which is in the White House residence. \

\ The president talked at length about Middle East issues, speaking at times directly to the people of that region. \

\ He said Iraq will never be partitioned into three sections and that democracy is still a priority in Iraq, despite the fact that success is more often defined now as achieving security, rather than a democratic state.\

\ Mr. Bush also answered questions from Mr. Nakouzi about whether the president is an enemy of Muslims who wants to destroy Islam.\

\ “I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God,” Mr. Bush said. “I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren’t religious people.”\

\ Mr. Bush also said that achieving democracy in Iraq is still a U.S. goal.\

\ “I strongly believe in the freedom movement. It’s ingrained in my soul. It comes from my belief that freedom is universal,” he said. “And I believe freedom is ingrained in everybody’s soul and if just given a chance, they’ll reach for it.”\

\ “And so security is really a step, an important step, in the freedom movement,” Mr. Bush said. \

\ Mr. Bush, when asked about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, said that he was “very optimistic we can achieve a two-state solution.”\

\ The U.S. is scheduled to host a summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders next month, possibly in Annapolis, Md.\

\ “I believe in my soul, in my heart, that not only is it necessary that there be two states living side by side in order to achieve peace, but it’s possible,” he said.\ \ \

\ — Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times