Laura Bush touts teaching of tolerance
PARIS, France -- U.S. first lady and former teacher Laura Bush used an appearance in Europe to make her first speech on the international stage -- and touted the importance of education in the war on terror.
The wife of President Bush addressed the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Tuesday. where she called for the teaching of respect and tolerance to children across the globe.
"A lasting victory in the war against terror depends on educating the world's children, because educated children are much more likely to embrace the values that defeat terror," she said.
She also condemned teenage suicide bombings in the Middle East as well as attacks in Russia and Pakistan, saying the world was engaged "in a mighty struggle against the agents of terror."
"The nations of the world must work together to confront this threat to our peace and security," she said.
"The recent bombings in Russia, Israel and Pakistan, where 11 French citizens lost their lives, are tragic reminders that terror threatens lives throughout the world."
She also echoed her husband's bewilderment at the phenomenon of young Palestinian suicide bombers.
"Every parent, every teacher, every leader has a responsibility to condemn the terrible tragedy of children blowing themselves up to kill others," she said.
"Education can help children see beyond the world of hate and hopelessness."
Her 25-minute address to the OECD was a "coming out" on the international stage for Bush.
The 55-year-old has often said she is not trying to emulate any of her predecessors, including her mother-in-law Barbara Bush and the widely travelled Hillary Clinton.
Although she has visited 15 countries in 16 months, she made those trips with her husband.
She arrived in France on Tuesday on a trip that includes Hungary and the Czech Republic.
In Prague, she will participate in a meeting on Afghanistan before she joins her husband on May 22 in Berlin for official visits in Germany, Russia, and Normandy in France.
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