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Bush warns Obama of terror threat

US President George W Bush
US President George W Bush hands over to Barack Obama next week

Outgoing US President George W Bush has warned his successor that a terrorist attack is still the "most urgent threat" to the US.

At his last press conference before handing over to Barack Obama next week, he said there were enemies who wanted to inflict damage on Americans.

Mr Bush said he believed North Korea may have an enriched uranium programme, while Iran was "still dangerous".

Mr Bush wished Mr Obama good luck, saying he would be well supported.

There's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict damage on Americans
President George W Bush

Appearing before the White House press corps to thank them for their work during his two terms in power, Mr Bush said he had received a security briefing every day except Sundays for the past eight years.

"The most urgent threat he will have to deal with, and other presidents after him have got to deal with, is an attack on our homeland," Mr Bush said.

"I wish I could report that is not the case, but there's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict damage on Americans. That will be the major threat."

Mr Bush was only eight months into his presidency when terror attacks occurred on 11 September, 2001, in the US.

In a wide-ranging question and answer session with the media, Mr Bush was asked about his mistakes, the economy, the Middle East and his future.

'Moral standing'

Questioned about America's "moral standing" in the world, he strongly disagreed with suggestions that it had been damaged by the war in Iraq.

But he acknowledged that it had been a mistake to make a speech about US troops in Iraq underneath a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished" in 2003.

President Bush outlines some of his presidential disappointments

US troop numbers were subsequently increased, and 140,000 remain in Iraq as his presidency ends.

Other "disappointments" cited by Mr Bush were the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and "not having weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq - the main reason given by the US for launching a war on Saddam Hussein.

He said he would be willing to ask Congress to release the remaining $350bn from the government's bailout fund, if Barack Obama asked him to.

Mr Bush also said the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans had been fast enough, but conceded that "things could have been done better".

The Bush administration was widely criticised by local residents who felt abandoned in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Leaving office

Mr Bush was supportive of Mr Obama, repeatedly saying that he wished him all the best and describing him as "smart and engaging" and also "a much better speech-maker than me".

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He predicted that the next president would suddenly realise the importance of being president of the US - either "the minute he walks in the Oval Office...[or] he may feel it the minute he gets sworn in".

He went on: "All I know is, he's going to feel it. There'll be a moment when he feels it."

As he prepares to leave the White House with his wife Laura, the famously fit president offered a glimpse of a vigorous retirement.

"I just can't envision myself, you know, with the big straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt sitting on some beach."



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