London, June 11 : US President George W Bush has said that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a guy really anxious for war in Iraq.
He told The Times that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.
Bush expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about US had been misunderstood.
"I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric," he said.
Use of phrases such as "bring them on" or "dead or alive", he said, "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."
Bush said that he found it very painful "to put youngsters in risk", and added: "I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.'
The unilateralism that marked his first White House term has been replaced by an enthusiasm for tough multi-lateralism.
He said that his focus for his final six months in office was to secure agreement on issues such as establishing a Palestinian state and to "leave behind a series of structures that makes it easier for the next president".
Bush is concerned that the Democratic nominee Barack Obama might open cracks in the West's united front towards Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The President was keen to bind his successor into a continued military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, but offered only cautious optimism about a recent decline in violence.
Asked about corruption allegations dogging Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush insisted: "I have found him to be an honest man."