Bush exhorts leaders of nations to stop violence stemming from drawings of Prophet Muhammed

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria on Wednesday of instigating Muslim protests triggered by drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, and President George W. Bush pleaded for an end to violence.

"I have no doubt that Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and have used this for their own purposes," Rice said. "The world ought to call them on it."

She did not offer specifics during a brief State Department news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The United States accuses Iran and Syria of funding terrorism and has tried to unite world opinion against both Middle Eastern nations.

"I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas," Bush had said earlier at the White House.

"We reject violence as a way to express discontent with what may be printed in a free press," he said.

"I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas," the president said.

Bush also said that Americans believe in a free press, and added, "With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others."

Bush made his comments after a meeting in the Oval Office with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"With all respect to press freedoms, obviously anything that villifies the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, or attacks Muslim sensibilities, I believe, needs to be condemned," the king said.

He went on to say that those who want to protest "should do it thoughfully, articulately, express their views peacefully", reports AP.

O.Ch.