No regrets over apology to Afghans: US commander

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 16:09

Washington: The commander of NATO troops in
Afghanistan has said that he had no regrets about a US apology
to Afghans over the burning of the Quran at a US base and
voiced hope that the crisis over the incident would soon be
over.

Asked in an interview yesterday with ABC World News about
criticism by some in the United States for President Barack
Obama`s apology to Kabul, US General John Allen defended the
move and said it had likely saved lives.

"Why wouldn`t we?" Allen told the American television
network. "This is the central word of God for them. Why
wouldn`t we? We didn`t do it on purpose but we should
apologize, and we did."

Allen voiced optimism that unrest sparked by the Quran
burning would soon pass and that US relations with Afghanistan
would recover from the current tensions.

"Well, we hope it is, we hope it is (over). This
relationship is very strong, and we think that the strength of
the relationship will carry us through this, and then on to
the long-term future that we have together," he told ABC`s
Martha Raddatz.

"I think the sense of the President (Hamid Karzai) is
that they want to move on," he said, according to a transcript
of the broadcast.

After copies of the Quran were sent to an incinerator pit
at the Bagram airbase two weeks ago, violent anti-US protests
erupted in which some 40 people died, including six US
soldiers killed by their Afghan colleagues.

Despite the violence, Allen said he called on his
commanders to exercise restraint and not to act out of revenge
for the attacks on their comrades.

"You know, great powers don`t get angry, great powers
don`t make decisions hastily in a crisis," the general said.
He added: "It`s been challenging, but we`re going to get
through this."

The US military has insisted the Qurans were sent to the
incinerator by accident and that the incident was
unintentional.

Yesterday, Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for
a suicide attack that killed at least two civilians at the
Bagram base near the Afghan capital Kabul, saying it was
revenge for the burning of Qurans there.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 15:04

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