WASHINGTON -- President Bush telephoned Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf yesterday and told him "not to worry" about a flap over the end of the war with Iraq.
White House aides, hoping to end the embarrassing episode, said the two were "on the same wavelength."
"The president told General Schwarzkopf not to worry about this incident. The president is totally relaxed about it, and the president is convinced they are on the same wavelength," deputy White House press secretary Roman Popadiuk told reporters.
President Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney on Wednesday disputed General Schwarzkopf's assertion that he wanted to continue the war against Iraq when Mr. Bush decided to stop the fighting.
Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and other administration officials had responded swiftly and firmly to the general's comments, made during a televised interview with David Frost on Public Broadcasting Service.
Mr. Bush said there had been "total agreement" on when to end the war, and Mr. Cheney issued a statement saying the allied commander in the Persian Gulf had raised no objection to halting combat.
The incident came at a particularly sensitive time for the administration because of the civil strife in Iraq, the Iraqi government's use of military equipment against the rebels and the uncertainty over what type of nation ultimately will emerge there.
Mr. Bush telephoned the four-star general yesterday morning to express his full support, Mr. Popadiuk said.
"The general was very pleased and appreciative of the president's phone call," Mr. Popadiuk said. He declined to say what the general told Mr. Bush.
The president wanted to reassure the general that this was "much ado about nothing," Mr. Popadiuk said.
He said Mr. Bush realized that the incident had become "a little bit of a story" and that the general was "probably feeling awkward in this situation."
In the interview, General Schwarzkopf had said: "Frankly my recommendation had been, you know, continue the march. I mean, we had them in a rout, and we would have continued to, you know, reap great destruction on them."
He said the president's decision to stop the war had left some escape routes open to the Iraqis. Still, he called the president's decision to end the fighting "humane" and "courageous."