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Bush Says Iran Must Release 'Hostages'
Bush acknowledged that Brazil is not violating sanctions but offered a gentle rebuke. "We would hope that nations would be very careful in dealing with Iran," he said.
Lula also tested Bush's famed impatience with a rambling, 20-minute opening statement (compared with the president's own four-minute introduction) and lectured at length about what he called the looming crisis of global warming. "Please pay attention," Lula said as he rattled off disturbing indications of climate change. "Global warming is a reality that threatens us by land, air and water."
On domestic matters, Bush used the session to offer support to embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose veracity was called into question last week by his former chief of staff in connection with the firings of U.S. attorneys.
"Attorney General Gonzales is an honorable and honest man, and he has my full confidence," Bush said. When Gonzales goes to Capitol Hill, the president said, "he will testify in front of Congress, and he will tell the truth."
Gonzales's seemingly conflicting accounts of his role in the firings prompted a GOP lawmaker to call Saturday for his resignation. "I trusted him before, but I can't now," Rep. Lee Terry (Neb.) said, according to the Associated Press. Although he once thought the controversy was just a Democratic "witch hunt," Terry said, "my trust in him in that position has taken a hit because of these contradictory statements by him."
Bush also sparred with Democrats over legislation to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. The president said in his weekly radio address that it "would substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for that of our military commanders" and "set an arbitrary deadline for surrender." And he mocked pork-barrel spending in the war funding bill, such as secure peanut storage. "I like peanuts as much as the next guy," Bush said, "but I believe the security of our troops should come before the security of our peanut crop."
For their response, Democrats tapped retired Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, who served two tours in Iraq and lost a race for Congress in Kentucky last fall.
Horne said the legislation would set badly needed benchmarks for Iraqis: "If the president vetoes this bill because he doesn't want to formally demonstrate progress in Iraq, never in the history of war would there be a more blatant example of a commander in chief undermining the troops under his care."
Staff writer Robin Wright in Washington contributed to this report.