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Holbrooke regrets Kabul comments

In the face of US media reports that Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) searched for Indians in last week's deadly attack in Kabul, US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has regretted his remarks suggesting Indians were not targeted. Menon in Kabul to discuss security of Indians

india Updated: Mar 05, 2010 13:42 IST

In the face of US media reports that Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) searched for Indians in last week's deadly attack in Kabul, US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has regretted his remarks suggesting Indians were not targeted.

"I regret any misunderstanding caused by my comments on the recent terrorist attack in Kabul, which claimed the lives of 6 Indians and at least ten citizens of other nations," US Special Representative For Afghanistan And Pakistan Richard C Holbrooke said on Friday.

"I did not say Indians were not targeted, but that initially it looked like the target was not an official Indian facility," he said. "Early reports on events like this are often unreliable, and I try not to jump to conclusions."

"We all know that Indian citizens have and continue to be targeted by terrorists, including inside Afghanistan," Holbrooke said adding, "My heart goes out to the families of all of the victims."

"The Afghan people and international community deeply appreciate the very substantial humanitarian and reconstruction assistance that India provides Afghanistan," he said in a bid to soothe any ruffled feathers in New Delhi.

"The willingness of India to take risks and make sacrifices to help Afghanistan is testament to India's commitment global peace and prosperity and a vital part of the international commitment to Afghanistan's future," Holbrooke said.

At a media briefing here Tuesday Holbrooke had said: "First of all, in regard to this attack, I don't accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility like the embassy."

"There were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. And let's not jump to conclusions," he told reporters when asked how Indians in Afghanistan could feel safe in the wake of last week's attack.

"I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focuses on the other. But please, let's not draw a conclusion which - for which there's no proof," he said.

Earlier, India had officially protested to Washington about Richard Holbrooke's comments about Indians not being the targets in the Kabul attack last week.

Holbrooke had upset New Delhi by his remarks when the guesthouse that was the target of the attack had only Indian guests and was the primary focus of the attacks in which seven Indians were killed.

The issue is likely to be raked up when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao travels to the US next week.

After the Kabul attack in which six Indians were among the 16 persons killed Holbrooke had said, "In regard to this attack, I don't accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility like the (Indian) embassy. They were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. Let's not jump to conclusions."