Civilians killing outrageous, but no rush for exit: Obama

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 23:10

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday
said that the killing of innocent Afghan civilians is
outrageous and unacceptable, but asserted that would continue
with the strategy to responsibly drawdown troops from
Afghanistan.

"The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous, and
it`s unacceptable. It`s not who we are as a country, and it
does not represent our military," Obama told reporters at the
White House in the aftermath of killing of 16 Afghans by an
American soldier.

"For that reason, I`ve directed the Pentagon to make sure
that we spare no effort in conducting a full investigation.

I can assure the American people and the Afghan people that we
will follow the facts wherever they lead us, and we will make
sure that anybody who was involved is held fully accountable
with the full force of the law," Obama said.

On Sunday Obama had spoken to his Afghan counterpart
Hamid Karzai.

"What I`ve made to President Karzai when I spoke to him
is that the United States takes this as seriously as if it was
our own citizens and our own children who were murdered. We`re
heartbroken over the loss of innocent life," he said.

Obama said yesterday that he met his commander in
Afghanistan, Gen John Allen, and US Ambassador to Afghanistan,
Ryan Croker.

"I have extraordinary confidence in them and in the many
Americans who are serving in Afghanistan and who have made
extraordinary sacrifices to be there," he said.

Obama said he would be meeting British Prime Minister
David Cameroon to consult about the way forward as they
prepare for the NATO summit in Chicago later this spring.

"So make no mistake: We have a strategy that will allow
us to responsibly wind down this war. We`re steadily
transitioning to the Afghans, who are moving into the lead.

And that`s going to allow us to bring our troops home," he
said.

He said the US was scheduled to remove 23,000 troops by
the end of this summer, following the 10,000 that it withdrew
last year.

"And meanwhile we will continue the work of devastating
al-Qaida`s leadership and denying them a safe haven," Obama
said.

Acknowledging that there is no question that they face a
difficult challenge in Afghanistan, Obama exuded confidence
that they can continue the work of meeting our objectives,
protecting the country and responsibly bringing this war to a
close.

Obama has maded it clear that international forces will
not "rush for the exits" in Afghanistan.

"It`s important for us to make sure that we get out in a
responsible way, so that we don`t end up having to go back in
but what we don`t want to do is to do it in a way that is just
a rush for the exits," Obama told reporters yesterday.

On Sunday, an American Army staff sergeant went on a
shooting spree and killed 16 civilians, including nine
children and three women, in southern Afghanistan.

The shooting marked another low in the ties of the two
countries after a wave of deadly protests over burning of
Quran.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 23:05

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