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    Civilian deaths intolerable: Karzai

    KABUL(PAN): President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday civilian deaths in NATO operations were intolerable and a rare public apology by the ISAF commander would not be enough to placate angry Afghans.

    "The main problem between Afghanistan and the US is civilian casualties and saying sorry will not work," Karzai told a National Security Council (NSC) meeting at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

    The meeting was also attended by ISAF commander Gen. Petraeus and high-ranking Afghan officials. Karzai told participants the killing of ordinary people in military operations was intolerable.

    Seventy-four civilians, including children and women, were killed in two separate offensives by ISAF soldiers in eastern Kunar province in less then two weeks.

    The deaths, which unleashed public fury against foreign forces, were strongly condemned by Karzai and Parliament. Days later, Gen. Petraeus issued a rare public apology.

    US President Barack Obama also conveyed "deep regrets" to his Afghan counterpart over the incidents. The NATO-led force says those responsible could face disciplinary action.

    At Sunday's meeting, participants expressed deep regrets over the casualties, a statement from the Presidential Palace said.

    Petraeus said they would try to avoid such accidental deaths. Karzai replied a mere apology was not enough and that Afghans would no longer tolerate losing their loved ones in foreign forces' operations.

    "Condemnation and apologies cannot heal the wounds of Afghans. On behalf of Afghans, I ask America to put a stop to civilian killings," the statement quoted Karzai as saying.

    "Winning the trust of the Afghan government and people by foreign soldiers is closely linked to (avoiding) civilian fatalities and if the killings continue, there will be huge problems for foreigners," he warned.

    frm/ma/mud