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(photo credit: AP [file])
President George W. Bush rejected Wednesday the assertion that his administration is playing up Iranian involvement in attacks on US troops in Iraq to justify a war on Iran.
The desire to protect American troops, rather than provoke Iran, was behind the steps the US was taking in Iraq to counter Iranian activity there, Bush stressed.
He reaffirmed statements made by American military officials earlier this week that the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards was behind weapons used against US soldiers in Iraq, though he acknowledged he didn't know who in the Iranian leadership had directed their use.
But, he said, "We know that they [the weapons] are there â€¦ I intend to do something about it." He later said, "The idea that somehow we're manufacturing the idea that Iranians are providing IEDs [improvised explosive devices] is preposterous."
Parroting a reporter's question, he asked, "Does this mean you're trying to have a pretext for war? No, it means I'm trying to protect our troops."
Bush also told reporters at his first press conference of 2007, held in the White House's East Wing, that he favored a multilateral approach on Iran.
He pointed to his administration's success in getting a UN Security Resolution against Iran's nuclear program to rebuff criticism that he hadn't used diplomacy enough in his attempts to stop the Islamic Republic from gaining a nuclear weapon.
In response to a question, he also said that multilateral efforts could be hampered by economic interests which didn't always coincide with the greater interest of peace.