Obama not to say `sorry` to Pak over NATO strike

The White House has ruled out President offering formal condolences to Pakistan over the killing of its 24 soldiers in a NATO strike.

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2011, 15:36 PM IST

New York: The White House has ruled out
President Barack Obama offering "formal condolences" to
Pakistan over the killing of its 24 soldiers in a NATO strike,
as suggested by his top diplomat in Islamabad in a desperate
bid to salvage deteriorating ties, a media report said on Thursday.

"The White House has decided that President Obama will
not offer formal condolences at least for now to Pakistan
for the deaths of two dozen soldiers in NATO airstrikes last
week, overruling State Department officials who argued for
such a show of remorse to help salvage America`s relationship
with Pakistan," `The New York Times` said, reflecting the mood
prevailing in the administration on Pakistan right now.

The request for this came on Monday, two days after the
NATO attack, from US envoy to Pakistan Cameron Munter, who
said that a formal video message from Obama was needed to help
prevent the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two
countries from catering, administration officials were quoted
as saying by the daily.

"The Ambassador, speaking by video conference from
Islamabad, said that anger in Pakistan had reached a fever
pitch, and that the United States needed to move to defuse it
as quickly as possible," the officials said.

The suggestion from the top American diplomat in
Pakistan was opposed by the Pentagon, which argued that such a
move would be demoralising for their forces and noted that the
statement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this
regard was enough.

"Some administration aides also worried that if Mr Obama
were to overrule the military and apologise to Pakistan,
such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents
in the presidential campaign," several officials, who declined
to be named because they were not authorised to speak
publicly, told the daily.

The White House has said that Obama will not comment on
it till the investigations are over, the paper reported.

On Tuesday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) ordered an
investigation into the incident in which officials of both
the Afghan and Pakistan governments have been invited to
participate.

"The US government has offered its deepest condolences
for the loss of life, from the White House and from Secretary
Clinton and (Defence) Secretary (Leon) Panetta," Tommy Vietor,
spokesman for the National Security Council, was quoted as
saying by the daily.

"We cannot offer additional comment on the circumstances
of the incident until we have the results," Vietor said.

PTI