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U.S. rules out Afghanistan war ‘apology’

The United States says it won’t be apologizing to Afghanistan for ‘mistakes’ made during the 12-year war

Published: Updated:

The United States on Tuesday said an apology to Afghanistan for “mistakes” made during the 12-year war was not on the cards.

Rebuffing claims by Kabul that such a mea culpa was being drafted, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice told CNN that there was “no need” for an apology.

“There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary,” Rice said.

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai’s spokesman had said President Barack Obama planned to write a letter acknowledging that American military errors had caused civilian casualties and acknowledging US “mistakes in the war on terror.” according to Agence France-Presse.

But Rice said “no such letter has been drafted or delivered. That is not on the table.”

The State Department also expressed caution on a long-sought bilateral security agreement (BSA), after an official in Kabul said the two sides had reached agreement on key points of the agreement.

Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry overcame the main stumbling blocks to an agreement in a telephone call on Tuesday but the State Department said some issues still had to be resolved before a final draft can be presented to the Loya Jirga, a gathering of Afghan tribal and political leaders that will meet in Kabul starting on Thursday.

Karzai’s spokesman said Tuesday that a major hurdle in negotiations toward an agreement -- relating to the issue of whether U.S. troops staying on in Afghanistan would be allowed to search the homes of Afghan citizens -- had been overcome.

Faizi said the deal would allow U.S. troops to enter Afghan homes once Nato forces withdraw in 2014 but only in “extraordinary circumstances” where there was an urgent risk to life.

But U.S. officials said there was still some way to go before reaching a final agreement.

“We’re not there yet. There are still some final issues we are working through,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, according to AFP.

Even if a final agreement is reached, Afghanistan has insisted that the BSA must be approved by a mass gathering of tribal chieftains and politicians.

The BSA will determine how many U.S. soldiers stay in Afghanistan when most of NATO’s troops deployed in the country since 2001 -- currently numbering 75,000 -- leave at the end of 2014, according to AFP.

(With AFP and Reuters)