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Obama 'deserves my silence,' says Bush

FORMER President George W. Bush says he won't criticize Barack Obama because the new president of the United States "deserves my silence."

He also says he is planning to write a book about the 12 toughest decisions he made in office.

Bush declined to critique the Obama administration in his first speech since leaving office in January although former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that Obama's decisions threaten America's safety.

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," Bush said. "He deserves my silence."

The former president was in Calgary, Canada, for an invitation-only event entitled a "Conversation with George W. Bush" which attracted close to 2,000 guests who paid US$3,100 per table.

He received two standing ovations from the predominantly business crowd.

About 200 people protested outside the event; four were arrested. Some protesters threw shoes at an effigy of Bush.

Bush said he wanted Obama to succeed and says it's important that he has that support. "I love my country a lot more than I love politics," Bush said. "I think it is essential that he be helped in office."

Bush is unpopular in Canada but less so in oil-rich Alberta, the country's most conservative province.

Of his planned book, Bush said it would be fun to write and that "it's going to be about the 12 toughest decisions I had to make."

Bush didn't specify what they were but he did say Iraq was better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

Bush was in good humor. He joked that he would do more speeches to pay for his new house in Dallas. "I actually paid for a house last fall. I think I'm the only American to have bought a house in the fall of 2008," he quipped.


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