US-Afghan Pact May Hinge on Obama 'Mistakes' Letter

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The United States and Afghanistan are close to finalizing the text of a long-term security deal, pending a letter from President Obama that guarantees US troops will not "commit the same mistakes" they have in the past, according to a senior Afghan presidential aide.

The idea for the letter was suggested by US Secretary of State John Kerry, during a phone call with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, according to Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesperson.

For weeks, the US and Afghanistan have been locked in an impasse over whether US troops would be given permission to search and enter Afghan homes. The clause, citing "exceptional circumstances" allowing the searches, would be part of the final text of a Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA. Once the final text of the agreement is decided, it would be voted on this week by nearly 3,000 Afghan political and religious leaders in an unprecedented public gathering in Kabul.

The U.S. State Dept. today declined to confirm or deny an agreement that Obama will pen an apology to the people of Afghanistan.

"I don't have anything to say about whether there will or won't be a letter," State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at today's press briefing.

Faizi, Karzai's long-time spokesperson, was far more optimistic.

"Secretary Kerry offered to give a written statement from President Barack Obama to the Afghan people and the president of Afghanistan, that U.S. forces will not commit the same mistakes they've committed in the past," he said.

Faizi said Kerry made the offer, after turning down Karzai's offer to attend this week's consultative assembly and make his case in person "before the Afghan people."

If Obama were to acknowledge mistakes to Afghanistan, it wouldn't be the first time. In February 2012, Obama sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for U.S. troops reportedly burning Qurans in Afghanistan. Republicans in the U.S. criticized Obama for the move.