KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) -Karen Hughes, the US State Department”s top imagemaker, has defended the US-led war in Iraq, saying a stable and democratic Iraq would contribute to greater world peace.
Hughes, a close confidante of President George W. Bush and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said US involvement in Iraq was aimed at ensuring security and peace in the Middle East.
"I know the Muslim world disagreed with America”s decision to go into Iraq," said Hughes, who arrived in Malaysia for a two-day goodwill visit dubbed as a "listening trip".
"President Bush made the decision that he believed was in the best interest of American security and for greater peace in the world including in the Muslim world," she said.
"He believed it was in the best interest of the Middle East itself that Iraq becomes a democratic and stable nation in the heart of the Middle East.
"I know that many people here have concerns about the war in Iraq. No one likes war. We believe that when we are able to build a stable, unified and democratic Iraq that the cause of peace in the world will spread further."
Hughes was sworn in a month ago and given the delicate job of polishing the United States”s global image, which has taken a battering in the Muslim world and elsewhere over the Iraq war and other disputes.
She said Muslim Malaysia, which chairs the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the 116-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), could play a pivotal role in fostering global tolerance and combatting terrorism.
"I do believe Malaysia can be a very important part of our outreach to confront terror. Here in Malaysia you have the experience of different cultures living together in an atmosphere of tolerance," she said.
"That provides a very important example to other parts of the world — to Iraq, for example, as the people there try figure out how to get along better in a spirit of harmony."
Hughes, who arrived in Malaysia after a trip to Indonesia, was to meet Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to discuss Malaysia”s role in fostering understanding among people of different faiths.