U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is denying reports that the Obama administration will apologize to Afghans for mistakes made during the fight against the Taliban. As Afghan elders meet in Kabul to consider allowing U.S. troops to stay beyond 2014, Kerry says he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have agreed on the final language of such a deal.
Reports of a U.S. apology center on Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi, who is quoted as saying Karzai was expecting U.S. President Barack Obama to write a letter acknowledging mistakes in the war, including civilian casualties.
Kerry says there was never any such expectation, and there will be no apology.
"President Karzai didn't ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology. There will be, there is no, it's not even on the table," said Kerry.
What was on the table for Kerry and President Karzai during telephone diplomacy Tuesday and Wednesday were the specifics of a deal governing the extension of some U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Kerry said they have reached an agreement on the final language of that plan, but that it would be inappropriate to discuss its details before its submission to the Afghan people through a meeting of elders known as a Loya Jirga.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department following talks with Australian officials, Kerry said the agreement spells out a "limited role" for U.S. troops beyond 2014.
"It is entirely to train, equip, and assist. There is no combat role for United States forces. And the Bilateral Security Agreement is an effort to try to clarify for Afghans and for United States military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that ongoing relationship," he said.
Kerry said it is very important for President Karzai to know that issues that he has raised with the United States for many years have been "properly addressed," just as it is important for the United States to know that issues it has raised with him "for a number of years" are also properly addressed.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.