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Belinda sin censura y completo video auténtico, audio original
15/12/2008
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I'll miss the airplane, of course," he joked during an appearance at Bagram Air Base, outside Kabul. "But I'm mainly going to miss being the commander-in-chief of such an outstanding group of men and women."

Bush also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after a stop Sunday in Baghdad, where an Iraqi journalist flung his shoes at the American leader and called him a "dog."

In Arab culture, throwing one's shoes at another is considered a strong sign of contempt. But Bush told reporters aboard Air Force One afterward that the "bizarre" incident was not a sign of popular opinion in the country he ordered U.S. forces to invade in 2003.

"I don't think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq," he said. "You can try to do that if you want to. I don't think it would be accurate."

Bush dismissed the incident as an attempt to draw the attention of U.S. news outlets.

"I don't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole," he joked

The journalist -- Muntadhar al-Zaidi, of the Iraqi network Al-Baghdadia -- was wrestled to the ground by security guards and arrested after hurling both shoes at Bush, who ducked in time to avoid them. The network demanded his release late Sunday "in accordance with democracy and freedom of expression Iraqis were promised by the new era and American authorities," it said in a statement read on air.

Visits to Afghanistan and Iraq were unannounced for security reasons, as were Bush's previous visits to the war zones.

In Kabul, Bush told reporters that Afghanistan was making "good progress" despite a resurgent Taliban. He acknowledged that conditions in much of the country were "difficult," but said they were "unquestionably, undoubtedly" better than when the Taliban ruled most of the country.

The United States, with 31,000 troops, has the largest contingent of any country in Afghanistan, but the number is less than a quarter of the U.S. strength in Iraq.

Bush's visit to Afghanistan comes after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's own unannounced stop during the weekend, during which he met with Karzai.

Brown said on Saturday that Britain would help Afghanistan with upcoming elections in May and set up a task force to fight corruption -- offers Brown said that Karzai had accepted.

Brown said he had come to Afghanistan to evaluate the British troops and determine how effective the military strategies have been. He also said he wanted to "show solidarity with the Afghan people."

His visit coincided with the deaths of four British marines and three Canadian soldiers in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Brown said that the Taliban used a 13-year-old boy to carry out the Helmand attack, a claim denied by the Taliban.

 

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An Iraqi television station on Monday demanded the immediate release of one of its journalists who caused a furore when he hurled shoes at visiting US President George W. Bush.

Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader.

Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while the second was off target.

Zaidi, a reporter with the Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room.

"Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people," it said in a statement.

In Cairo, Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the television channel, described Zaidi as a "proud Arab and an open-minded man."

"We fear for his safety," he added.

BAGHDAD—In a farewell visit to Iraq, President George W. Bush on Sunday defended his handling of the war but warned that it was "not over" yet, nearly six years after he launched the invasion that toppled a brutal dictator but left Iraq, and the president's legacy, struggling to recover.

Hours later the president landed in Afghanistan for a rally with more than 1,000 U.S. and foreign troops at an American base there. "We are making hopeful gains," he said.

The unannounced visits came 37 days before Bush hands power to President-elect Barack Obama, who is expected to oversee the departure of most if not all of the nearly 150,000 American troops in Iraq and a shift of military resources to Afghanistan.

In a final speech to cheering American forces inside one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, Bush said his decision to bolster the U.S. troop presence early last year to quell sectarian bloodshed was "one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military."
Thanks to you, the Iraq we're standing in today is dramatically freer, dramatically safer and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago," he said before boarding Air Force One for the flight to Afghanistan.

But in a sign of the lingering animosity many Iraqis have toward Bush, an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes across the room at Bush—the height of insults in the Arab world—and called Bush a "dog." The shoes slammed into the wall behind Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who took questions from other journalists after the assailant was taken away.

The president was greeted at Baghdad's airport by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Bush then threw himself into a flurry of meetings with Iraqi officials, including President Jalal Talabani, vice presidents Adel Abdel-Mahdi and Tariq al-Hashimi, and Maliki.

"The work hasn't been easy, but it's been necessary," Bush said after his meeting with Talabani, Abdel-Mahdi and Hashimi.

Bush said his visit was in part "to herald the passage" of a Status of Forces Agreement for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011 and an accompanying Strategic Framework Agreement outlining future U.S.-Iraqi relations.

He called the package "a reminder of our friendship and as a way forward to help the Iraqi people realize the blessings of a free society."

The Bush visit, which like his three previous ones was kept secret until his arrival, reflected the changes that have been taking place in Iraq in the aftermath of his "surge" strategy. In a sign of improved security since his previous stopover in September 2007, Bush's distinctive jet landed in Baghdad in broad daylight, and Bush ventured beyond military bases and the heavily guarded Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Appearing alongside Maliki, Bush, who only recently acknowledged regrets about relying on bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction when he invaded Iraq in March 2003, declared, "The war is not over."

The words were in stark contrast to those he uttered May 1, 2003, shortly after Hussein's overthrow, when Bush announced that "major combat operations have ended" and that attention could turn to sustaining security and rebuilding the country.

Since then, 4,060 more U.S. troops have died in Iraq, according to icasualties.org, and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Bush's popularity level is at a record low. Most Iraqis remain without reliable electricity, clean water, sewage and security, and pressure has mounted on the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to end the American presence.

That pressure led Iraqi negotiators to demand a firm withdrawal date from the U.S. during months of negotiations over the Status of Forces Agreement, which was approved by Iraq's parliament Nov. 27 and will govern the U.S. troop presence after Jan. 1. The pact mandates that American combat troops leave Iraqi cities by June 30 and that all U.S. forces be out by the end of 2011.

The Iraq War plays a key role in defining Bush's legacy and is largely responsible for the plunge in his public support to historically low levels. Yet as he took this final lap, Iraq has become a relative bright spot in his foreign policy record.

Although military leaders stress that the situation in Iraq could revert to mayhem, it has nonetheless has grown more stable. Daily attacks in Iraq, which once numbered in the dozens, now average about four, according to U.S. officials. Meanwhile, the administration's efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea, along with Bush's campaign to promote Arab-Israeli peace, are deteriorating or gridlocked.

In Afghanistan, Bush followed his visit with troops at Bagram Air Base with a helicopter ride to Kabul, where he met with President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. has about 31,000 troops in the country, and commanders have called for up to 20,000 more to battle a resurgent Taliban.

Staff writer Paul Richter in Washington, D.C., and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Dec. 15 -- Arriving here on Sunday for a surprise farewell visit, President Bush staunchly defended a war that has taken far more time, money and lives than anticipated, but he received a taste of local resentment toward his policies when an Iraqi journalist hurled two shoes at him at a news conference.

Hours later, Bush made another unannounced stop, landing before dawn Monday in Afghanistan for a meeting with President Hamid Karzai at his Kabul palace.

In Iraq, Bush said the conflict "has not been easy" but was necessary for U.S. security, Iraqi stability and "world peace." He hailed a recently signed but still controversial security pact as a sign of impending victory.

"There is still more work to be done. The war is not over," Bush said, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki next to him. "But with the conclusion of this agreement . . . it is decidedly on its way to being won."

Just after Bush finished his remarks and said "Thank you" in Arabic, an Iraqi journalist took off his shoes and threw them at Bush, one after the other.

Throwing a shoe at someone is considered the worst possible insult in Iraq and is meant to show extreme disrespect and contempt. When U.S. forces helped topple a statue of Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein after rolling into Baghdad in April 2003, jubilant Iraqis beat the statue's face with their shoes.

"This is a farewell kiss!" the man, identified as Muntadar al-Zaidi, a reporter with the Cairo-based al-Baghdadia television network, yelled in Arabic as he threw the first shoe. Bush, about 12 feet away, ducked and narrowly missed being hit. When Zaidi threw again, Maliki reached out his hand to shield the president.

 

Zaidi yelled "Dog, dog!" as he was surrounded by Iraqi security officers, who tackled him and began to beat him. Zaidi was later removed from the ornate room in the heavily fortified Green Zone where the news conference was taking place.

Bush was not injured and joked about the incident minutes later: "If you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw. Thank you for your concern; do not worry about it."

Zaidi, colleagues said, was kidnapped by Shiite militiamen last year and was later released.

Bush's fourth and presumably final visit as president to Iraq was intended to highlight improving security conditions in the war-torn country. After spending about 7 1/2 hours here, he departed on Air Force One near midnight.

During the flight to Bagram Air Base, Bush joked about the "bizarre" shoe-throwing incident but also said he did not think the episode indicated broader resentment among Iraqis. "I don't think you can take one guy and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq," he said.


And Bush told reporters that the mission in Afghanistan was "the same" as the one in Iraq: "To have the young democracy develop the institutions so it can survive on its own, not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, which is to achieve an objective and leave." He added that the United States also aimed to "deny a safe haven for

Upon landing, Bush addressed U.S. soldiers and Marines on the tarmac before boarding a helicopter for a flight to Kabul, where he met with Karzai. The Afghan leader greeted him warmly, the Associated Press reported, but Karzai also emphasized that the visit, Bush's second to Afghanistan, came only after repeated requests. He said that he wished that Bush had more time and that the Afghan people could see Bush in person.

The veil of secrecy for the Afghanistan leg was even more opaque than that for Iraq, the trip coming as Afghanistan is being wracked by levels of violence unseen since the United States invaded in 2001.

That situation contrasts with declining violence across Iraq, which Bush referenced in describing that war as on the path to victory. Yet many areas in Iraq remain unstable, particularly in the north. Last week, at least 57 Iraqis were killed in a suicide attack at a popular restaurant outside the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

More than 4,200 members of the U.S. military have died here since the 2003 invasion; the war has cost U.S. taxpayers $576 billion so far.

The improvement in security conditions in Iraq over the past year has had little discernible impact on the mood of the American public, which has said in polls that the invasion was a mistake. Bush said in a recent interview that faulty intelligence that preceded the war was his "biggest regret," although he declined to say whether he would have changed course if he had known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.

On Sunday, Bush met with a series of Iraqi leaders about the recently completed security agreement, which calls for the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011.

After meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at Salam Palace, Bush hailed the security agreement as "a reminder of our friendship and as a way forward to help the Iraqi people realize the blessings of a free society."

Bush's praise for the pact is particularly notable given that the U.S. administration spent years dismissing proposals for withdrawal timelines as dangerous admissions of defeat. The agreement came after months of hard bargaining by Iraqi leaders, who insisted on a firm date for the removal of U.S. troops.

Although Bush and his aides characterize the agreement as a sign of improvement, it is still divisive and may not last. A national referendum on the pact is required in the summer; rejection by the Iraqi public could speed the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has expressed concerns about the agreement. Opponents are railing against it.

Bush previously traveled to Iraq in November 2003, June 2006 and September 2007.

Bush's farewell visits are part of a carefully orchestrated series of valedictory trips, speeches and interviews aimed at highlighting his administration's record on a variety of issues, including terrorism and the fight against AIDS. The effort has largely been overshadowed, however, by the ongoing economic crisis and by President-elect Barack Obama's preparations for his arrival at the White House.

Last week in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Bush vigorously defended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and argued that his administration had "laid a solid foundation" for Obama overseas. Bush also urged Obama to "stay on the offensive" against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Obama has urged shifting U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, calling the situation in the latter country an "urgent crisis." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that thousands of additional troops would head there by next summer.

Bush drew acclaim from leaders in both countries. Talabani, speaking in English, called Bush a "great friend" who had "helped to liberate" Iraq. "Thanks to him and his courageous leadership, we are here," he said.

Maliki thanked Bush for his support. "Today, Iraq is moving forward in every field," Maliki said before the shoe incident.

And Karzai said, "I and the Afghan people are very proud and honored to the profoundest depth of our hearts to have President Bush with us here today."

After the chaotic news conference, Bush went to Camp Victory, where hundreds of U.S. troops greeted him with cheers and whoops. "Thanks to you, the Iraq we're standing in today is dramatically freer, dramatically safer and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago," Bush said, positioned beneath an enormous American flag.

After Bush left Iraq, the al-Baghdadia network released a statement demanding Zaidi's release from Iraqi custody "to spare his life." It was unclear Sunday night what charges he might face for throwing the shoes.

"Any step taken against him will be a reminder of the dictatorial time and the violence and lack of freedom that Iraqis faced," the statement said.

Dubai (PTI): "It's a sign of a free society." This is how US President George W Bush described the "humiliating" incident in which a Iraqi journalist threw shoes at him in Baghdad.

Bush said he has seen a lot of weird things during his eight-year-long Presidency and that he would term the latest incident as "one of the weirdest".

The scribe threw two shoes at the President -- one after another -- during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday.

"And it was amusing. I mean, I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest. So this happens and it's a sign of a free society," Bush said.

"But I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible. And so, the guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is. But whatever it is I'm sure somebody will hear it," the US President told ABC channel in Iraq.

Noting that one of the most important parts of his job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people, Bush said there have been no attacks in the country since then.

"One of the major theaters against al-Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al-Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...," Bush said when asked what he thought about his last trip to the region as President.

Reporting from Baghdad -- In a farewell visit to Iraq, President Bush on Sunday defended his handling of the war but warned that it was "not over" yet, nearly six years after he launched the invasion that toppled a brutal dictator but left Iraq, and the president's legacy, struggling to recover.

The unannounced visit, which lasted about eight hours, came 37 days before Bush hands power to President-elect Barack Obama, who is expected to oversee the departure of most if not all of the nearly 150,000 American troops in Iraq

He later flew to Afghanistan, where he met with President Hamid Karzai and attended a rally of U.S. and allied soldiers at Bagram Air Base. He told the troops that they were making "hopeful gains" in a country where they are battling a growing insurgency. Thousands more U.S. troops are likely to be sent to Afghanistan next year to join about 30,000 already there.

In a final speech in Iraq to cheering U.S. forces in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, Bush said his decision to bolster the American troop presence early last year to quell sectarian bloodshed was "one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military."

"Thanks to you, the Iraq we're standing in today is dramatically freer, dramatically safer and dramatically better than the Iraq we found eight years ago," he said before boarding Air Force One for the flight home.

But in a sign of the lingering animosity many Iraqis have toward Bush, and in a moment that undercut White House hopes of an enthusiastic, glitch-free visit to a relatively quiet nation, an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes across the room at Bush and called him a "dog," the height of insults in the Arab world. The shoes slammed into the wall behind Bush and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who proceeded to take questions from other journalists after the assailant was wrestled to the ground and taken away.

The president, upon landing at Baghdad's airport, was greeted by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Bush then threw himself into a flurry of meetings with Iraqi officials, including President Jalal Talabani, Vice Presidents Adel Abdul Mehdi and Tariq Hashimi, and Maliki.

"The work hasn't been easy, but it's been necessary," Bush said after his meeting with Talabani, Abdul Mehdi and Hashimi.

Bush said his visit was in part "to herald the passage" of a Status of Forces Agreement for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011 and an accompanying accord outlining future U.S.-Iraqi relations.

Bush called the package "a reminder of our friendship and as a way forward to help the Iraqi people realize the blessings of a free society." Some critics say it is not clear enough in its deadlines for U.S. troop pullouts, and other critics say it is likely to negate his promise that America would stay as long as it took for Iraq to remain a stable democracy.

The Bush visit, which like his three previous ones was kept secret until his arrival, reflected the changes that have been taking place in Iraq in the aftermath of what he has called his "surge" strategy. In a sign of improved security since his last trip here in September 2007, and perhaps to burnish his image, Bush's distinctive jet landed in Baghdad in broad daylight, and he ventured beyond military bases and the heavily guarded Green Zone in central Baghdad.

His first stop was Talabani's palace in the capital's Karada district, outside the Green Zone, where he walked slowly up a long, red carpet with Talabani. After dark, when the meeting was over, Bush's unmarked motorcade drove through the quiet, chilly streets and crossed the bright green bridge leading into the Green Zone for meetings with more Iraqi officials, including Maliki. The streets were empty, having been closed hours earlier to most traffic when security officials got word of Bush's arrival.

Appearing alongside Maliki, Bush, who only recently acknowledged regrets about relying on bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction when he invaded Iraq in March 2003, declared, "The war is not over."

The words were in stark contrast to those he uttered May 1, 2003, shortly after Hussein's overthrow, when Bush announced that "major combat operations have ended" and that attention could turn to sustaining security and rebuilding the country.

Since then, 4,060 more U.S. forces have died in Iraq, according to the independent website icasualties.org, and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Bush's popularity level is at a record low. Most Iraqis remain without reliable electricity, clean water, sewage systems and security, and pressure has mounted on the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to end the American presence here.

That pressure led Iraqi negotiators to demand a firm withdrawal date from the United States during months of talks over the Status of Forces Agreement, which was approved by Iraq's parliament Nov. 27 and will govern the U.S. troop presence as of Jan. 1. The pact mandates that American combat troops leave cities by June 30 and that all U.S. forces be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Fierce debate, including a near-brawl in parliament, preceded the approval as opponents warned that it could be manipulated to extend the U.S. presence. Maliki got the votes he sought only after promising a national referendum in July that could force his government to cancel the pact if voters oppose it. But in a sign of confidence in the agreement, Bush and Maliki signed the document Sunday.

The Iraq war plays a key role in defining Bush's legacy and is largely responsible for the plunge in his public support to historically low levels. Yet, as he took this final lap, Iraq has become a relative bright spot in his foreign policy record. Although military leaders emphasize that the situation in Iraq could still revert to mayhem, it has nonetheless grown more stable.

Daily attacks, which once numbered in the dozens, now average about four, U.S. officials say. Meanwhile, the administration's efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea, along with Bush's campaign to promote Arab-Israeli peace, are deteriorating or gridlocked.

The Baghdad visit comes in a month when the White House has been pressing a public campaign to advance its view that Bush is leaving behind a stronger record of accomplishment than widely thought. On Dec. 5, Bush delivered a speech in which he declared that he was leaving the Middle East a more hopeful place -- a judgment that many would dispute.

"His wrong acts eventually divided the people of Iraq into sects, political entities and blocs, and as a consequence we are unable to reestablish our state," said Usama Najafi, a lawmaker with the secular Iraqi National List coalition in parliament. Najafi blamed Bush for Iranian interference in Iraq, saying the U.S. presence had given Iran an excuse to send weapons to anti-U.S. militias.

"We cannot rebuild our country because of the fragile base which was formed on mistakes, and even President Bush is unable to convince the international community of the reasons behind his policy in Iraq," Najafi said.

Fawzi Akram, a lawmaker with an anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim bloc, said he wished Bush would "stand in the city center of Baghdad and apologize to all the people of Iraq."

As word of Bush's visit spread, mosques in Baghdad's Sadr City district, a stronghold of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, began blaring their sirens and calling for people to march in protest today.

But Abbas Bayati, a lawmaker with the main Shiite bloc in parliament, praised Bush "for his bravery in getting rid of the previous regime" and said any errors in planning for the aftermath of Hussein's regime should be viewed in context.

"True, there were many sacrifices that were made, plenty of pain and agony. Maybe the American administration was not very precise in planning what would come afterward," Bayati said. "But to start this project by removing Saddam and then to finish it off with the making of the [Status of Forces Agreement] is something great."

Susman and Ahmed are Times staff writers.

tina.susman@latimes.com

Paul Richter in our Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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