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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

White House won't rule out Obama admitting Afghan war mistakes -- By Meghashyam Mali, The Washington Examiner

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday declined to deny reports that President Obama will write a letter acknowledging U.S. mistakes in the Afghanistan war as part of a security agreement with Kabul.

Carney said he would not “comment on presidential correspondence." He addressed the issue of Afghan civilian casualties, however, and stressed that the U.S. worked carefully to avoid them.

“We take various precautions to prevent civilian casualties,” said Carney. He added that the U.S. “always expresses regret when civilians are killed.”

“It’s an issue we continue to work through,” he added, noting that “our concern about potential civilian casualties is reflected in the extreme care taken by our military forces.”

Carney’s comments came after Reuters reported that Obama would write a letter to the Afghan people, admitting that mistakes had been made in the “war on terror,” citing a spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The report came as Afghan and U.S. negotiators worked toward a post-2014 security agreement between the two nations. NATO coalition troops are slated to leave in 2014, but the administration hopes to retain a residual force to continue to provide training for Afghan security forces and to help stabilize the country.

But the talks have been contentious, with Karzai wanting assurances that the U.S. would no longer have the authority to conduct raids on Afghan homes. Reports Tuesday said that the two sides were close to a deal that would allow U.S. raids in “extraordinary circumstances” only.

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