News24

Obama 'accountable' for civilian deaths

2010-05-12 22:41

Washington - US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he is "accountable" for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. He was speaking during a joint news conference in Washington with visiting Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai.

"When there is a civilian casualty, that is not just a political problem for me. I am ultimately accountable, just as General (Stanley) McChrystal is accountable, for somebody who is not on the battlefield who got killed," Obama said.

"And that is something that I have to carry with me and that anybody who is involved in the military operation has to carry with them," he said. "And so we do not take that lightly.

"We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties not because it's a problem for President Karzai. We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties because I don't want civilians killed. And we are going to do everything we can to prevent that."

Standing alongside Obama, the Afghan leader hailed "frank, productive" White House talks on the need to protect Afghan civilians and promised to spend US financial resources with "extreme care".

"We discussed in quite (a lot of) detail and in a very frank and productive manner the issues of protection of civilians and with respect to the judicial independence of Afghanistan," Karzai said.

"I found it very happy for me to convey back to the Afghan people that I found a very supportive voice from President Obama on these accounts," he said.

"I'm very glad to report to you that we will be setting up a team of our senior advisors to work out the exact timelines of the transfer of detention centres to the Afghan government, which I consider to be a major point of progress in our conversations."