KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan journalists kept their shoes on.
A day after an Iraqi reporter hurled a pair of shoes at President George W. Bush, the American leader on Monday again held a news conference before a group of reporters from a country that the U.S. invaded under his watch.
Afghan reporters had gathered at the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul, at 6 a.m. on Monday for an 8 a.m. news conference by Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
And that left plenty of time for shoe jokes.
Some of the reporters — a collegial bunch that sees one another several times a week — egged on one of their colleagues, jokingly trying to pressure the television reporter into taking off his shoe and hurling it once the U.S. president arrived.
The news conference later concluded with no footgear thrown.
Afghan officials, however, appeared concerned the press would not show sufficient respect to the American president.
Karzai's deputy spokesman, Saimak Herwai, told Afghan reporters that they had to address Bush as "His Excellency," an honorary title not typically used with U.S. presidents.
While one Afghan journalist did address Bush as "His Excellency," another prominent television reporter disagreed with Herwai. And when that reporter got the chance to ask Bush a question, he pointedly said: "I have a question for Mr. President Bush."
On Sunday, Bush ducked a pair of shoes hurled at his head in the middle of a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The assailant, a television correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt, also shouted: "This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."
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