WASHINGTON: Hours after the Department of Defence and Nato issued press releases on the findings into the Nato airstrike on November 26 on the Pak-Afghan border, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner was repeatedly pressed by journalists at the daily press briefing about why only a statement expressing regret had been issued as opposed to an apology.
Toner said: “The difference is that we have accepted responsibility for mistakes that we made. But as the report makes clear, there were miscommunications on both sides. There was misinformation that led to the results of that day. It’s a great tragedy. We’ve expressed our regret.”
Toner was also asked about the difference between “we’re sorry” and “we regret” by a journalist at the briefing.
The State Department spokesperson said: “I think ‘we regret’ refers to a sense of sympathy with the Pakistani people in this case, but more broadly with the people affected by any incident or tragedy.”
“We’re accepting responsibility for any of our actions that may have contributed to it. I don’t know about an apology – you can figure that out for your own. I can only say what we’re trying to express through this investigation.”
Earlier this month, a New York Times report said that US President Barack Obama will not issue a formal apology or condolences on the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a Nato attack on the Pak-Afghan border.
The report had stated that US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, through a video conference, told White House officials that the anti-American sentiment has reached its peak in Pakistan stressing the need for a formal apology by the US. But the White House argued that condolences offered by senior US officials and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were enough till the US completes its investigations into the matter, the report said.
“The US government has offered its deepest condolences for the loss of life, from the White House and from Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, referring to Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta, “and we are conducting an investigation into the incident. We cannot offer additional comment on the circumstances of the incident until we have the results.”
On the question of compensation, Toner on Friday said that while the Department of Defense would have more information, “my understanding is that we are prepared to offer some payments in recognition of the loss incurred by the family.”
Toner also added that while the State Department had expressed regret, the US had also accepted responsibility for the mistakes that were theirs.