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Bush: Iran supplying weapons in Iraq

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AP: President Bush said Wednesday he’s convinced that the Iranian government is supplying deadly weapons to fighters in Iraq, even if he can’t prove the orders came from the highest levels in Tehran. Associated Press

By TERENCE HUNT

AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush said Wednesday he’s convinced that the Iranian government is supplying deadly weapons to fighters in Iraq, even if he can’t prove the orders came from the highest levels in Tehran.

More important, Bush said in his first news conference of the year, is protecting U.S. troops against the lethal new threat. “I’m going to do something about it,” Bush said.

U.S. officials have said that Iran helped on attacks on troops in Iraq, an assertion denied by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, Bush shrugged off congressional debate on a resolution opposing his Iraq policy, noting that the measure was nonbinding and mostly symbolic. But he said U.S. troops are counting on lawmakers to provide them the funds they need to win.

Bush spoke as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives debated a measure opposing his decision to send some 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.

“They have every right to express their opposition and it is a nonbinding resolution,” he said of the House members, who were continuing a marathon Iraq policy debate on Capitol Hill even as he spoke.

In his first news conference since Dec. 20, Bush said he received a briefing earlier in the day from Iraq from newly-confirmed Gen. David Petraeus, the new chief commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, who is now in Baghdad.

“We talked about the coordination between Iraqi and coalition forces,” Bush said. For now, he said, that coordination appeared to be good, although Bush said much work remains.

Meanwhile, Bush responded carefully when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent sharp criticism of U.S. foreign and military policy. Bush said he had a “complicated relationship” with the Russian leader.

Bush also said that he and Putin have a lot they agree on, and that’s what people in the United States need to understand. Chief among those common priorities, Bush said, is making sure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Putin slammed U.S. domination of world affairs at an international conference of security officials in Germany over the weekend, saying it was making the world more dangerous by overusing its military power.

The depth of Putin’s criticism surprised U.S. officials. Moscow and Washington drew closer together immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but more recently relations have been more strained.

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