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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Bush urges nations to defend freedoms

November 24, 2002

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— In two nations once darkened by Nazi and Communist rule, President Bush vowed Saturday to defend hard-won freedoms behind the former Iron Curtain. He said fledgling NATO states must in turn help defeat "new and terrible dangers."

"The world has suffered enough from fanatics who seek to impose their will through fear and murder," Bush told tens of thousands of Romanians massed at Revolution Square to celebrate their nation's newly christened NATO invitation.

"The NATO alliance and the civilized world are confronting the new enemies of freedom, and we will prevail," he said.

Bush began his day in Vilnius, Lithuania, another former Soviet bloc nation joining NATO - barely a decade after regaining its independence from Moscow.

As a pale morning light splashed over Vilnius' crowded town square, Bush said, "The long night of fear, uncertainty and loneliness is over."

"You are joining the strong and growing family of NATO. Our alliance has made a solemn pledge of protection, and anyone who would choose Lithuania as an enemy has also made an enemy of the United States of America," he said.

It was the emotional highlight of the president's five-day, four-nation European trip that ended Saturday when he returned to Washington. At every stop, he pointed to the historic NATO expansion while urging allies to stiffen their resolve against terrorism.

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