Obama talks with Karzai, expresses sorrow over civilian deaths
CHICAGO (PAN): US President Barack Obama on Wednesday expressed sorrow over recent civilian casualties during a video conference with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai.
During the hour-long video conference call, the two leaders discussed a range of issues, including the current situation in Afghanistan in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing, regional dynamics, and their shared commitment to Afghan-led reconciliation, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
The two leaders also discussed progress on forging an enduring US-Afghan strategic partnership and transition to Afghan leadership for security, he said.
“The President expressed his sorrow over tragic civilian casualties, most recently in Helmand province. Both leaders noted that the Taliban are responsible for the great majority of civilian losses, and agreed that every loss of civilian life is a tragedy and undermines our mission that focuses on protecting the population,” Carney said.
“The two leaders agreed to maintain their close consultations going forward,” he said.
Responding to questions, he said Obama looks forward to discussing with General David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and his entire national security team, the variety of options that he will consider regarding the pace and slope of the troop drawdown slated to begin this July.
“But there is no formal recommendation or recommendations at this point,” he noted. As part of the process that he put in place with his strategy announced in December of 2009, the president has been engaged in regular monthly meetings that he chairs on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Af-Pak policy, and weekly meetings with Gates Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which Afghanistan is a frequent topic of conversation and discussion, Carney said.
“We are, again, very clear-eyed about the challenges in Afghanistan, about the progress that has been made, but also about the setbacks that we’ve experienced at various times. I’m not suggesting that we know everything already and therefore don’t need outside inputs. We obviously do and welcome them. But we’re not learning a great deal of information about the challenges that we face in Afghanistan here,” he said.
“All of that is part of how the President has been thinking about Afghanistan and Pakistan since he got into office and even before. It was all part of how he viewed the process when he settled on the strategy that he’s implementing now,” Carney said.
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