President Barack Obama is pushing back at some Republican critics who say he actually wants gas prices to increase.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama says no president facing re-election would actually want to see gas prices rise because of the hardship that causes to American families.

Obama says he's asking Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether speculation in the oil markets is driving up oil prices. In the past month, gasoline prices have risen by more than 28 cents per gallon, making fuel the most expensive ever for this time of year. On Tuesday, the nationwide average for regular unleaded slipped less than a penny to $3.764 per gallon, ending a string of price increases that began on Feb. 8.

Obama: Still A Window For Iranian Diplomacy

President Barack Obama says it is his belief that there is a still a "window of opportunity" to use diplomacy
instead of military force to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama also responded to criticism from Republican presidential candidates who say he's been weak on Iran. Obama says presidential candidates don't have "a lot of responsibility" and are not commander in chief.

Obama says the GOP is talking about war in a casual way. He says if his opponents want to launch a war with Iran, they should explain the consequences to the American people.

He reiterates his comments from earlier this week -- that his policy on Iran is not one of containment, but of stopping Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Obama: Unilateral action against Syria a `mistake'

President Barack Obama says that unilateral military action by the United States against the regime of Syrian
President Bashar Assad would be a mistake. He says the situation in Syria is more complicated than it was in Libya.

Obama has resisted calls to get drawn into the turmoil in Syria to stop Assad's bloody crackdown on protesters. More than 7,500 people have been killed there.

Obama said at a news conference Tuesday that the international community has not been able to muster a campaign against Syria like the one in Libya that ousted Moammar Gadhafi last year. Russia has blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution against Assad's regime.

Obama's strategy has been to use sanctions and international diplomatic isolation to pressure Assad into handing over power.

Obama Announces New Housing Initiatives

President Obama is announcing new mortgage relief for members of the military and veterans as well as
homeowners with government-insured loans. The initiatives are the latest administration attempt to help borrowers struggling under a depressed housing market.

Obama spelled out the plan Tuesday at the start of his first news conference of the year.

Borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration would be able to refinance at half the fee that the FHA currently charges. The administration says a typical FHA borrower who refinances could save more than $1,000 a year from the changes.

For service members and veterans, Obama says major lenders will review foreclosures or denials of lower interest rates. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members will be paid their lost equity and receive additional compensation.


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