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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush heads to Amman, Jordan today to meet Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on concluding talks with NATO leaders in Latvia over the past two days. In a speech yesterday at the Riga summit, Bush dismissed suggestions that Iraq had descended into civil war, instead blaiming al Qaeda for the latest wave of sectarian violence. He also vowed not to withdraw troops "until the mission is complete."

The New York Times says it is now time for Bush and al-Maliki to impress on each other the brutal facts of life in their respective capitals.

"Mr. Bush needs to make clear that Americans' patience has all but run out and that he will start bringing the troops home unless Mr. Maliki moves to rein in sectarian bloodletting and Iraqi troops start shouldering more of the burden. Mr. Maliki needs to make Mr. Bush understand Iraq's full desperation -- and his own desperate political weakness. So long as Baghdad remains in chaos -- and militias are better armed and more motivated than the Iraqi Army -- he has no chance of ending the blood feuds or breaking the cycle of retribution. This sort of truth-telling does not come easily to either man, and at this point there may not be anything that can salvage Iraq. But more denial and drift will only lead to more chaos."

The Washington Post says it is important for Saudi Arabia to revise its policy on Iraq, too.

"[Saudi King Abdullah] may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices. The result would be to limit Tehran's ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere... To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse."

Pakistan's Dawn says the dispatch of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to the Middle East and the resumption of Arab-Israeli dialogue on Palestine indicate that an international switch toward diplomacy has begun.

"If the U.S. and other aggressive powers that violate the principles of inter-state behaviour through overwhelming military strength turn to peaceful ways, this century could still witness a revival of the ideals that emerged from the experience of two World Wars. However, the transition is not going to be a smooth or simple affair. People everywhere, and leaders and thinkers of vision must focus on challenges facing our planet rather than keep competing for more wealth and power through exploitation, force or injustice."

In the UK, The Times says the ceasefire in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer of peace to his Palestinian neighbors could aid Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas to focus on his struggle against Hamas militants -- which in turn would persuade Western governments to resume funding for the Palestinian Authority, easing the pain of the more vulnerable Palestinians.

"Jordan, playing host to President Bush today, seems to be using its good offices wisely. Condoleezza Rice is to meet Mr Abbas tomorrow; Mr Bush may then be able to announce a fresh initiative. Progress is the region depends on confidence, courage and mutually reinforcing initiatives. It would be naive to be optimistic after all that has occurred but there is cause for less pessimism."

Pope in Turkey

While the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey was bound to be fraught, The New York Times says diplomacy and cooperation is the way forward.

"As the pope champions the rights of Christians in Turkey and other Muslim lands, he should bear in mind that his words will be most effective if he makes clear that the West still has a long way to go in defending the rights of minorities. The pope and his Turkish hosts are to be commended for going ahead with the trip in the face of so much dissension. Turkey needs to engage in a full debate over minority and religious rights -- and how it relates to the West. Benedict's role in furthering that debate and promoting better interfaith relations may prove to be helpful."

Turkish Daily News says Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arranged to meet the Pope before departing to the NATO summit in Riga, and although the arrangement was made in the last minute, it was a diplomatic coup of sorts.

"It would have been a fiasco for the Turkish premier, who has been sparing no effort in forging an Alliance of Civilizations with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, not to greet the pope at least on his arrival in Turkey today for a three-day trip, most of which will be devoted to events aimed at enhancing understanding between the Greek Orthodox Fener Patriarchate and the Catholic Vatican... We hope the papal visit will help to spread the word of peace and contribute to a better understanding between Islam and Christianity."

Sri Lankan crisis

With Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on an official visit to India this week, Sri Lanka's Daily News says that the governments of both countries believe a commitment to economic development was essential also because lasting peace in the region is intertwined with economic progress. In an editorial, the paper lamented the "terroristic course" of the group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"The campaign of murder and mayhem unleashed by the Tigers, emphasizes and re-emphasizes their inhumanity and their derisive dismissal of the wellbeing of the Tamil people, whose rights the LTTE is stridently claiming to champion. The President did right to highlight these perverse traits of the LTTE in India, thus engaging in substantial awareness-raising of the Tigers' innate destructiveness."

India's Hindu says any solution to the island nation's terror troubles is feasible and viable if the LTTE is excluded from talks, since it needs to be dealt with as "part of the problem, not part of the solution."

"Given this pre-condition of excluding the LTTE from any solution, there are only two options before India... The first is to persuade Sri Lanka to adopt an Indian-type quasi-federal Constitution for a united, sovereign Sri Lanka. This is the minimum demand of the Sri Lankan Tamil people. India clearly cannot go below this demand. The second option is the partition of the island to create an independent sovereign state of Eelam. This would mean India making a long-term commitment to sustain the survival of Eelam -- and risk Eelam becoming a future base for India's enemies (we did that with Bangladesh and paid a heavy price for taking that risk)."

Bush has dismissed suggestions that Iraq has descended into civil war.




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