President Bush admitted Wednesday that his tough rhetoric had given the world the impression he was a "guy really anxious for war" and said he now wished he had used a different tone on the global stage.
In an interview with London-based The Times newspaper, Bush said his main aim in the seven months before his presidency ends was to leave his successor a diplomatic framework for tackling Iran.
Bush voiced regret at divisions in the international community created by the war in Iraq, adding: "I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric."
'Dead or alive'
He admitted that his use of phrases such as "bring them on" and "dead or alive" had "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."
Bush, who is in Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about building pressure on Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program, is due to fly on to Rome, Paris and London to seek further support for the effort.
Despite three rounds of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, Iran has refused to stop enrichment. It says its atomic program is aimed at creating electricity rather than nuclear weapons.
Bush told The Times he wanted to "leave behind a series of structures that makes it easier for the next president" to tackle issues such as Iran's nuclear program and establishing a Palestinian state.
His successor, Bush said, is likely to stick to the current policy after assessing "what will work and what won't work in dealing with Iran." He urged the world to work together and "keep focused."
Bush also offered supportive words for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whom he is scheduled to meet on Sunday, and who is facing tough times at home with support for his Labour Party and for his leadership fading fast.
"(He is) plenty confident and plenty smart, plenty capable" Bush told The Times. "He can sort it out."