NATO attack: US offers regret, compensation but no apology

Published: December 23, 2011

State Department spokesperson says US accepts responsibility and is prepared to offer payment to soldiers' families.

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.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • sam
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:28AM

    ok i tell you the difference.”regret” means we accept it was a mistake but may do it again and “apology” means we accept it was a mistake and will not do it again (atleast pledge not to).

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  • Ahmad
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:43AM

    USA has lost the chance. Govt and Army now should not open the NATO supplies even if OBAMA formally apologize. We should asked for Locker-B case application. Let USA soldiers dance with Afghani bhais and Taliban now…!.

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  • Kafka
    Dec 23, 2011 - 10:18AM

    What did you say? compensation ? well…………………..

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  • Mirza
    Dec 23, 2011 - 10:55AM

    At least the US is showing remorse and taking some responsibility and offering compensation. When did we take any responsibility in East Pakistan, Kargil, OBL, Mehran Base, and all the lies? The US general came out and answered all the questions asked. When are we ever going to do about any of the above failures?Recommend

  • Jahil
    Dec 23, 2011 - 11:01AM

    very pathetic i must say! This affair needs to end now..too bad for the people who were expecting an happy ending!

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  • faraz
    Dec 23, 2011 - 11:16AM

    World Bank giving 5.5 billion dollars means everything is back to normal. Apology or not, the deal has been done

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  • Nand
    Dec 23, 2011 - 11:19AM

    The only country in the world where the Generals are given extension of stay and the elected government booted out before its tenure. Incredible Pakistan.

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  • NA
    Dec 23, 2011 - 11:44AM

    It was pre-planned assault on Pakistan by US to provoke her to isolate itself from Afghan reconciliation process with Taliban. It is evident that after US-India strategic partnership, India has a greater role in future of Afghanistan where Taliban will be part of new Govt.

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  • Salman Sheikh
    Dec 23, 2011 - 12:13PM

    We should also not apologize for cutting NATO supply line but we have to cut the air space as well.

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  • maz3tt
    Dec 23, 2011 - 12:33PM

    New Pakistani army seems to be in the making . Unfortunately political leaders still seems to be pathetic with no so self respect. You have to earn the respect with the leaders seems incapable off.

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  • Acorn Guts
    Dec 23, 2011 - 1:51PM

    What genius in the State department thought it was a good idea to sacrifice their dignity and morality in lieu of their ego?

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  • naeem hussain
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:22PM

    It is none of your business we are independent country and free to do things we like.@Nand:

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  • Khan
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:33PM

    in legal terms, a head of state issuing a formal apology translates into full and unilateral acceptance of responsibility, and under international law gives Pakistan the right to retaliate

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  • Americano
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:53PM

    Is this not reasonable? Why fight over semantics? A mistake has been acknowledged, now only if the Pakistan army would recognize that it’s not divine and it too could have made a mistake. This is how international diplomacy works. Recommend

  • hamdi
    Dec 23, 2011 - 5:16PM

    We need an APOLOGY by Obama, he should come to Pakistan and offer an appology. Thats it!

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  • sam
    Dec 23, 2011 - 8:15PM

    ok i got the solution.Obama offer apology directly to the families of victims because you killed their loved ones. also offer them compensation.you can offer “regret” to Pakistani govt and for future Pakistani govt should provide security enough capability to fight back. Pakistani soldiers prefer to die while fighting not coldblooded.Recommend

  • waqas
    Dec 23, 2011 - 10:28PM

    This is one of the wicked tactics of USA. They want to escalate the Pakistani demand of apology to such a level that Pakistan at one point agrees to restore all ties and cooperation with USA with just a mere apology from US and puts aside other strict demands.

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  • Harry Stone
    Dec 24, 2011 - 10:22AM

    @sam:

    Why do we never hear about PAK soldiers fighting? It seems all we hear is they being attacked. I will not bring up the issue of winning or victories.

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Dec 24, 2011 - 1:30PM

    If this had been done by Pakistan, it would have been labeled “DELIBERATE” but Americans nuke Japan, bring down civilian air crafts, attack and kill allied forces( PAKISTANI SOLDIERS) and then wriggle out of all the blame/ consequences. Arrogant Americans have to apologize & they will ULTIMATELY!!!!

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  • Harry Stone
    Dec 25, 2011 - 6:54AM

    @Iftikhar-ur-Rehman:

    There seems to be an open question if PAK and the Americans are allies?

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  • chukwu ogbonnaya
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:55AM

    No matter what, US is still the best partner. Mistakes can occur. As they said – it resulted from misunderstanding between both parties. They truely regrats for their action

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  • Waqas
    Dec 25, 2011 - 9:33PM

    @ Harry. I think by now Pakistanis have realized that America is their enemy, not an ally after paying heavy price of so called ” cooperation on war on terror”

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  • Harry Stone
    Dec 27, 2011 - 4:24AM

    @Waqas:

    Are you referrring to the 24 military members that lost their lives. I missed the reports that PAK had deployed forces north of the boarder to fight terrorists. In fact, I believe most the military losses sustained by PAK have been within PAK.

    Now if you are saying that PAK are fighting terrorists that they normally would have good relations with. well that is a different story all together.

    But your question is interesting. If you believe the people and leaders of PAK have realized this about America, when do you think the Americans will come to the same conclusion about PAK?

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