The United States has ruled out apologising to Afghanistan for “mistakes” made during the 12-year war and denied claims in Kabul that such a mea culpa was being drafted.
The stern comments in Washington came after Afghan leader Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said President Barack Obama planned to write a letter acknowledging that American military errors had caused civilian casualties.
“There is no need for the United States to apologise to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary,” US National Security Advisor Susan Rice told CNN on Tuesday.
The state department also expressed caution on a long-sought bilateral security agreement (BSA), after an official in Kabul said the two sides had reached agreement on key points of the agreement.
Aimal Faizi, Karzai’s spokesman, said Obama would write to his boss acknowledging US “mistakes in the war on terror” and the suffering of the Afghan people due to American military operations, as part of the BSA.
But Rice said “no such letter has been drafted or delivered. That is not on the table.”
US officials later said the request for a letter had come from Karzai himself during a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.
The security agreement could lead to a small group of US troops staying behind after the withdrawal of combat troops in 2014 to train Afghan forces.
Officials in Washington said there was still some way to go before reaching a final agreement on the pact, to be put to an Afghan Grand Assembly for approval.