President Bush is in Mongolia on the last stop of an eight-day trip to Asia which has also taken him to Japan, South Korea, and China. Mr. Bush thanked Mongolian leaders for contributing to American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Bush and Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar inspected a military honor guard of soldiers wearing red and blue uniforms with gold pointed helmets, harkening back to the day of the country's most famous warrior, Genghis Khan.
Mongolia's military presence across much of the world continues today; but as peacekeepers not as invaders. The nation is part of peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, Western Sahara, Congo, and Sudan, with 150 soldiers leaving for Sierra Leone next month.
Mongolia has also contributed troops to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Bush told an audience at Government House that those soldiers are serving with courage and distinction: "Two Mongolian soldiers here today risked their lives to stop a suicide bomber who was trying to drive a truck full of explosives into a Coalition mess tent in southern Iraq. As the truck hurtled towards them, they opened fire -- killing the terrorist and saving countless lives."
President Bush says Mongolians in Iraq have helped make possible what he calls a stunning transformation as the country is now beginning to elect its own leaders.
Mr. Bush likened the fight against Iraqi insurgents to Mongolia's struggle against Communism, when protesters brought down the Soviet-era government here, 15 years ago: "Like the ideology of Communism, Islamic radicalism teaches that the innocent can be murdered to serve their brutal aims. Like the ideology of Communism, Islamic radicalism is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live
in liberty are weak and decadent. And, like the ideology of Communism, the ideology of Islamic radicalism is destined to fail because the will to power is no match for the universal desire to live in freedom."
President Bush says as Mongolians help others secure the blessings of liberty the United States walks with them as they continue to build a free society at home. Washington is giving Mongolia 11 million dollars to improve its military and help
build an international peacekeeping training center.
President Bush is the first American leader to visit Mongolia and the highest ranking U.S. official since Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, Henry Wallace, in 1944.
As the country prepares to celebrate its 800th anniversary next year, President Bush recalled a Mongolian legend of a woman who gave each of her five sons an arrow and told them to break them in their hands. They did.
But when she bound those five arrows together, they could not be broken. The lesson, she told her sons, is that when brothers stand alone they can be broken by anyone but together they are stronger.
President Bush said Mongolia and the United States stand together in the cause of freedom and the fight against terror. He says, if free nations remain united, no force of tyranny can break them.