NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Bush acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that he had miscalculated post-war conditions in Iraq, The New York Times reported.
The paper quoted Bush as saying during a 30-minute interview that he made "a miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in post-war Iraq.
But he insisted that the 17-month-long insurgency was the unintended by-product of a "swift victory" against Saddam Hussein's military, the Times reported.
Bush said his strategy had been "flexible enough" to respond. "We're adjusting to our conditions" in places like Najaf, the paper quoted him as saying.
The Times said Bush deflected further inquiries as to what had gone wrong with the occupation.
According to the Pentagon, 969 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the invasion, 828 of them since April 30, 2003. An additional 6,690 service members have been wounded, most of them during the occupation.
In an interview published on Friday in USA Today, Bush said that Americans will re-elect him to a second term even if they disagree with his decision to invade Iraq.
Bush said voters "know who I am and I believe they're comfortable with the fact that they know I'm not going to shift principles or shift positions based upon polls and focus groups."
Bush told USA Today that "the American people have seen me make the hardest of decisions. That's just going to have to be a part of their decision-making process."
In the Times interview, the president also discussed the issue of North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying that he would not be rushed to set deadlines.
The newspaper said "Bush displayed none of the alarm about North Korea's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq."
It quoted him as saying about the leaders of North Korea and Iran: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."
Bush told the Times he would continue diplomatic pressure. It said he gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.
"I'm confident that over time this will work -- I certainly hope it does," the newspaper quoted Bush as saying of the diplomatic approach.
© 2004 Reuters