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CNN: Is Administration Going Back on Pledge Not to Apologize to Karzai for Afghanistan War?

As part of the 2014 withdrawal agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, Afghani President Hamid Karzai has requested a “letter of assurances” about the future of U.S. troop presence in his country and an “apology” for America’s conduct over the course of the more than 12-year long war. White House officials have flatly denied that an apology would be forthcoming. On Wednesday, CNN reported that an apology of sorts may, in fact, be in the offing.

On Tuesday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer that reports suggesting America would apologize for its conduct during the war “was a complete misunderstanding of what the situation is.”

“No such letter has been drafted or delivered,” Rice insisted. “There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary.”

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However, according to CNN reporter Elise Labott, a “letter of assurances” will be delivered to Karzai from the American government. She said that the letter would establish limits on how American troops can conduct operations in the country after withdrawal.

“He also wants an acknowledgement of U.S. mistakes in the past,” Labott said of Karzai. “There have been a lot of civilian deaths and when President Karzai takes this agreement to the Afghan people, he wants the U.S. to acknowledge these deaths and express some kind of regret.”

“That sounds like an apology to me,” Blitzer observed.

“Well, it’s a bit of semantics,” Labott conceded. “It’s a distinction without a difference.” She added that American officials have apologized for civilian deaths in the past on multiple occasions.

“But the president will be severely criticized if anything comes out looking like the United States is apologizing to Afghanistan after all the blood and treasure the U.S. committed to trying to help the Afghan people since 9/11,” Blitzer observed. “That will be pretty politically outrageous here.”

“Well, it’s not an apology for the U.S. actions in the war or for the war itself,” Labott replied. “But it is a very narrow expression of regret. You can call it an apology for deaths — civilian deaths — that there have been many of in the Afghan War.”

Watch the clip below via CNN:

[Photo via screen grab ]

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