SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The toppling of Saddam Hussein and the creation of a stable government in Iraq will prove to be one of the most effective ways to help spread democracy and peace throughout the Middle East, said former Secretary of State James Baker.
As important as Iraqi stability is a genuine, lasting peace between Israeli and Palestinians, and that may not be as far off as it may seem, thanks to new Palestinian leadership and the willingness of Israel to make concessions, Baker said during a speech to approximately 1,000 people Monday at the University of Utah.
The speech was part of the inaugural ceremonies for university President Michael Young.
"This is a time of incredible opportunity to resolve differences that have festered for decades," said Baker, who served as secretary of state for President George Bush between 1989 and 1992. "We're seeing a wind of change blow in the Middle East. It has blown down a metaphoric Berlin Wall.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein has led to an evolution of reform in many countries," he said. "Pressure for reform is bubbling up in the grass roots of other countries."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)