Obama Apologizes for Quran Burning in Afghanistan

President Obama apologized Thursday in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans at the largest American military base in Afghanistan, according to the White House and Karzai’s office. The incident at Bagram Air Base has fueled days of angry protests in the war-torn country.

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Karzai’s office quoted Obama as saying in the message. “The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”


Three days of protests over the incident have left 14 people dead, including two American soldiers shot dead when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on them at their base in Khogyani in eastern Nangarhar province, district governor Mohammad Hassan told AFP. White House officials declined to challenge the wording. US Ambassador Ryan Crocker delivered the letter to Karzai on Thursday afternoon, local time, according to US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Obama “expressed our regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled at Bagram Airbase,” Vietor said in an emailed statement.

The incident, which occurred on Tuesday, led the Taliban to call on Afghans to retaliate against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and drew a stern rebuke from Karzai himself earlier this week.

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Idaho Statesman

S. Korea Reaches Out to N. Korea in Sympathy

The South Korean government expressed its sympathy to the people of North Korea following the death of Kim Jong Il, South Korea’s unification minister said Tuesday.

In a televised press conference, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik also said Seoul will not send a government delegation to North Korea. However, the South will allow bereaved family members of the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun to visit the North in return for a visit by North Korean delegates to the funerals of the two South Korean figures.

In addition, the South Korean government asked church groups to refrain from lighting Christmas trees near the demilitarized zone between the two countries due to the North’s mourning period. The Christmas trees have been deemed a symbol of psychological warfare, and North Korea threatened in the past to retaliate if the South lights the trees.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un, the son and successor of the recently deceased North Korean leader, viewed his father’s body in Pyongyang on Tuesday, state-run media said, as the world watched for clues on how the leadership transition will play out in the insular dictatorship. Kim enjoyed a cult-like status in the nation, with millions schooled to accept him as a divine and benevolent father figure.

Several of North Korea’s neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines and leading ally China, offered condolences to the North Korean people on Kim’s death. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the North Korean embassy in Beijing Tuesday to offer condolences, according to the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua. The deceased leader’s body will remain for a week at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where his father is also interred. Memorial services will follow on December 28 and 29.

 

Source: CNN.com

Image: EuroNews.net