WASHINGTON – As she prepared to leave Thursday night for Jordan, Israel and Egypt, first lady Laura Bush (search) told FOX News that a recent news article on U.S. troops desecrating the Koran does not accurately reflect the beliefs and behaviors of Americans.
The story, published and then later retracted by Newsweek (search), spurred violent riots in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
"Well, I am glad that they retracted it, but I think it's really important for America to be able to get over to people in the Middle East what we are really like, and that freedom of religion and respect for other people's religion is a very, very important part of our country, in the history of our country," Bush said in her first public comments on the story.
The first lady added that she thought Newsweek could "let people know that it was a mistake, try to get the word out" that the story was false.
The first lady is delivering an address to the World Economic Forum (search) in Jordan this weekend. She said she will speak on women's issues and that freedom and democracy "demand the participation of everybody, men and women.
"The real purpose of the speech is to talk about how women want the same things that men do, they want to have a place in society, they want to be able to be educated, they want to make sure their children are educated. They want to be advocates for their children and their families," she said.
President Bush, who is not going on the trip, told a Milwaukee audience on Thursday that during the trip, his wife will be a good representative for American ideals.
"She's going to help advance the freedom agenda, which is really the peace agenda. The more freedom there is in the world, the more this world will be a peaceful world," he said.
Last week, the Bushes traveled together to Tbilisi, Georgia, where the president delivered a speech on democracy to a large crowd. Since then, reports have come out that a live grenade was tossed toward the stage. It hit someone and fell to the ground, but did not explode.
Mrs. Bush said the incident should not overshadow the celebration of freedom in the former Soviet satellite, but knowing what she knows now, it is a bit unsettling.
"I am sorry that that one thing happened. Thank God nothing really happened from the grenade but the cause, the actual event was so magnificent and so encouraging," she said.
The first lady also talked about the current battle on Capitol Hill on judicial nominees and said she supports GOP efforts to end the filibuster option on judgeships.
"I know a lot of those judicial nominees and of course I know them to be really very, very wise jurists and very accomplished men and women and so I hope they have the chance to get an up-or-down vote. I think they deserve a chance to get an up-or-down vote," Bush said.
Already, Mrs. Bush has been more visible during the president's second term, giving more speeches and advocating her favorite causes, including education, literacy and encouraging young people to go into teaching. She said Americans can expect to see more of her as she promotes those issues.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Molly Henneberg.