Obama: Apology to Afghans Saved Lives

Exclusive: President said apology for Koran burning "calmed things down."
0:45 | 03/01/12

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Transcript for Obama: Apology to Afghans Saved Lives
A state dinner at the White House normally reserved to for the most distinguished of foreign dignitaries but tonight. All that tradition pageantry and pomp is -- about a very different guest list. ABC's Bob Woodruff was given expose -- behind the scenes access to an unprecedented. Event. Less than an hour before it it is going to be world late. Interview with a rather. I arrived at Washington's Union Station at 345. This afternoon after bad weather canceled my flights -- let's run. The rush only added to my nerves and a sense of honor of being invited to this historic event in the first place it's almost surreal in the sense that I would even be in this room -- them. How many times you get a chance to go to a the state dinner but the real honor sitting alongside the Iraq veterans who this dinner we'll celebrate the families are still very much here. They can never be forgotten. And that's probably the most exciting thing for me via a finally arrived at the White House at 415. And there it is still the White House. 45 minutes later at 5 o'clock on the dot the president. -- it's good to see you I asked him about the somewhat controversial apology to Afghans for the accidental burning of Iran's by American troops. The reason that it was important as. Save. Lives and to make sure our troops who are there right now. Are not placed in further danger to think it has improved it -- an apology it did it -- calm things down we're not out of the woods yet. But my criteria in any decision -- make getting recommendations from the folks were actually on the ground. Is what's -- best protect our folks. And make sure that they can accomplish that -- why -- we -- at dinnertime when having a dinner in the White House dinner as opposed to. A parade in the streets well because. A bunch of our folks are still in harm's way -- Interview finished it was finally time for some -- -- at 7 PM. Changed my clothes into my tuxedo in this cramped press room. Here in the east room members from every branch of the military donning their dress uniforms a -- of medals for dinner 78 Iraq veterans in their gas. Dynamic salad of heirloom tomatoes -- by and it chocolate mint crammed relayed desert. All served on the Wilson China. With the seal of the president in the center your commander in chief Rocco. This time to honor those who survived. Remember those who did not and take pride in all of them. America's greatest days are still to come. And they are great because of you. Cheers for Nightline this is Bob Woodruff in the White House.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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