U.S. President George W. Bush is seeking to sell the global community on his blueprint for spreading democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, overhauling the United Nations and expanding free trade.
There is broad opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq among the more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings gathered for three days of U.N. General Assembly meetings. Many leaders also would rather hear Bush finally relent and support an international treaty on global warming or promise to donate foreign aid at a level more proportionate to other rich nations.
But in his annual speech to the U.N. gathering Wednesday, Bush was hoping to impress upon his audience the urgency of addressing the world's problems as he sees them.
"This is a time of great challenge for America and the world," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "We must work together in common purpose to advance freedom, ease suffering, and lay the foundations of lasting peace for our children and grandchildren."
The president, aides said, also was to try to persuade world leaders to partner in his second-term pledge to spread democracy, even in unlikely or unreceptive places, and was to tout U.S. efforts to battle AIDS in Africa and prevent a bird flu pandemic.
Bush also was aiming to boost efforts already behind schedule because of concerns in developing countries to reach a global trade agreement that would slash subsidies and reduce tariffs worldwide.
Bush switched to diplomatic duties after two weeks of nearly constant attention to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. He held a White House meeting Tuesday with Iraq's president before flying here for two days at the United Nations and for one-on-one talks with allies. He continues the diplomacy Friday with a session back in Washington with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Katrina problem won't be far away, however: Bush scheduled a prime-time address from Louisiana on Thursday night and he was to give top billing in his General Assembly speech to thanking world leaders for their outpouring of money, equipment and other aid, reports the AP.