UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ President Bush, again facing skeptical world leaders, challenged the United Nations to support his plan for steady transition to democratic rule in Iraq, saying the wartorn nation ``needs the help of friends.''

``This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis _ neither hurried nor delayed by the voices of other parties,'' Bush said, in a jab at France and others demanding an immediate end to the U.S. occupation.

``So let us move forward,'' said Bush, who also invited the United Nations to play an expanded role in Iraq's reconstruction. He said the world body should assist in preparing a constitution for Iraq, help train civil servants and conduct free and fair elections.

``Every young democracy needs the help of friends,'' Bush said.

Second, Bush called for a worldwide drive to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. 'The deadly combination of outlaw regimes, terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away,'' he said.

In the audience, at the General Assembly, sat Ahmed Chalabi, this month's president of the Iraqi Governing Council, and President Jacques Chirac of France, who opposes Bush's plan for Iraq.

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