"No hard feelings" over shoe incident, White House says

Other News Materials 16 December 2008 22:45 (UTC +04:00)

The White House declared Tuesday there were "no hard feelings" over the shoe assault on President George W Bush during a weekend trip to Baghdad, and said it was up to the Iraqi government to determine if the assailant should be punished, dpa reported.

"The president harbours no hard feelings about the incident," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The incident happened as Bush spoke at a press conference on Sunday with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. A reporter for al- Baghdadiya television hurled two shoes at the president, who managed to duck both of them as other journalists and security personnel dragged the thrower to the ground.

"Obviously, he was very angry," Perino said of Montasser al- Zaidi, the reporter who is due to appear in court for the incident on Wednesday.

"The president believes that Iraq is a sovereign country, a democratic country, and they will have a process that they follow on this," Perino said.

Bush made a surprise and final visit to Iraq before he leaves office. In Arabic culture, directing shoes at someone is seen as a major insult, and al-Zaidi also shouted in Arabic "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog" as he unleashed the barrage of footwear.

"The president just thinks that - it was just a shoe, people express themselves in lots of different ways," Perino said.

Perino also said the president was satisfied with the performance of the Secret Service, which is tasked with protecting Bush.

"He felt fine about it," Perino said. "He let the Secret Service know he thought he was okay and the Secret Service jumped in as quickly as they thought they needed to."