US accepts responsibility for NATO strike

The US accepts responsibility for the mistakes of the "tragic" cross-border NATO strike in Pakistan.

Washington: The US accepts responsibility
for the mistakes of the "tragic" cross-border NATO strike in
Pakistan and wants to take "corrective measures" to improve
trust with the country, the White House said on Friday.

The report of an investigation led by a top commander
from the US Central Command blamed the November 26 incident on
"an over-arching lack of trust" between the two sides.
The cross border strike killed 24 Pakistan soldiers.

"We accept responsibility for the mistakes we made,"
Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson, National Security Council, White
House told news agency after the Pentagon briefed the media about the
results of its investigation.

Hayden said President Barack Obama had been briefed on
the report in the past several days.

"With the investigation complete, our focus is to learn
from the mistakes that were made and take whatever corrective
measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not
repeated," she said in response to a question.

The US investigation concluded that the "tragic" incident
occurred due to lack of co-ordination between the US and
Pakistani forces. At the same time it asserted that the strong
fire by Pakistani forces was the catalyst for the incident.

Both the US and NATO investigation, results of which were
released simultaneously, reported that the US-led NATO forces
acted in self-defence after being fired upon.

"The investigating officer found US forces given what
information they had available to them at the time, acted in
self-defence and with appropriate force after being fired
upon. He also found that there was no intentional effort to
target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani
military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location
information to Pakistani officials," Defence Department said.

"The combined international and Afghan force was
initially fired upon by unidentified forces, then believed not
to be Pakistani military and legitimately responded in self-
defence," NATO said in another statement issued from Brussels.

"Inadequate coordination by US and Pakistani military
officers operating through the Border Coordination Center,
including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared
with the Pakistani liaison officer, resulted in a
misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military
units," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

"This, coupled with other gaps in information about the
activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed
to the tragic result," he added.

While referring all the questions on the investigations
to the Department of Defence, the White House said it will now
work to improve the level of trust between the United States
and Pakistan.

"More importantly, we will work to improve the level of
trust between the United States and Pakistan countries. We
cannot operate effectively on the border -- or in other parts
of our relationship -- without addressing the fundamental
trust still lacking between us," Hayden said.

Hayden said the United States expresses its "deepest
regret" for the loss of life and for the lack of proper
coordination between US and Pakistani forces that contributed
to those losses.

"We express our sincere condolences to the Pakistani
people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to
the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or
wounded," the White House official said.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Defence said it is
willing to offer solatia payments to the families of Pakistani
soldiers who were killed.

PTI

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