President Bush attempted to exercise spin control to smooth over his relationship with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday, emphasizing the Iraqi people’s claim on their own government after his comments a day before seemed to signal his displeasure with Maliki’s leadership.

AP via

On Tuesday, Bush had offered a tepid endorsement of the Iraqi government, expressing frustration at the lack of progress and saying it was up to the Iraqi people to decide whether to replace those in power. The remark brought an angry response from al-Maliki who said, “No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people.”

The White House set out to reframe Bush’s comment and the way it was interpreted.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the president’s words were not intended to signal a withdrawal of support for al-Maliki. As a result of the heavy media coverage of his remarks at the North American summit in Canada, Bush decided to insert a direct line of support for al-Maliki in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference.

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