Washington: The White House has said it sincerely expressed condolences to Pakistan over loss of 24 soldiers in a NATO strike but indicated the US would wait for conclusions of investigations underway before reacting further to the border incident that has complicated its relations with the key regional country.
“Well, we are in the middle of an investigation—actually, at the early stages of an investigation—into what exactly happened.
So I think that the expression of condolences for tragic loss of life conveys a sincere sentiment about our feelings, the President’s feelings and the administration’s feelings, and it goes to the importance of the relationship that we have with Pakistan,” President Barack Obama’s spokesman said.
Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed as “utter nonsense” the suggestion in a report by The New York Times that President Obama was refraining from making a formal apology to Pakistan due to domestic political considerations.
Questioned at the daily briefing about whether the White House has apologized over the incident, which has evoked a strong reaction from Pakistan, Carney referred to the comments that President Obama sees it as a tragedy.
“We need to find the results of this investigation. We have offered our condolences. We have called it what it is, a tragic loss of life. And we anticipate results of the investigation to come when they’re ready,” he said, when asked if the White House considered it premature to offer an apology.
“It’s a matter of fact that I, speaking for the White House and the President, offered condolences on behalf of him, the administration, the American people, for the tragic loss of life—and it was a tragedy,” he responded to a question.
“And we have launched an investigation through CENTCOM, as well as ISAF, to find out exactly what transpired. But—maybe I’m pre-empting what your question was, but there was obviously no apology and there was an expression of condolences,” the spokesman added.
Carney found the headline of the media report as being at odds with the story but confirmed that there was a “suggestion from our embassy in Pakistan that a message of expressing condolences be taped.”
“We didn’t do that, but I personally got up here and expressed condolences on behalf of the President and the American people. Secretary (of Defense, Leon) Panetta has done the same thing. So that message has been delivered. But, again, the headline is at odds with the story.”
The White House spokesman said the US is working with Pakistan on the issue of border routes for NATO supplies, which have been closed in the aftermath of the November 26 attack on Pakistani check-posts.
He said it is “vital” to American national security that the US continue to have cooperative relationship with Pakistan, especially in the fight against terror.
“We urge them to attend the conference in Bonn, and are working with them on our overall relationship. We understand that this is complicated by events, as has been the case at various times this year.
“But it’s an important relationship that we continue to work on, because it’s in the interest of the American people and our national security that we continue to work on it.”