President Obama is sticking by his decision to apologize to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans by U.S. troops last week and maintained in an interview Wednesday that doing so "calmed things down." The burning incident sparked a wave of violence across the country.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Obama said in an interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff at the White House. "But my criteria in any decision I make, getting recommendations from folks who are actually on the ground, is what is going to best protect our folks and make sure that they can accomplish their mission."
ABC provides some of the background:
The president's comments came just hours before a formal White House dinner to honor Iraq War veterans, some of whom have also served in Afghanistan and may be redeploying there to assist ongoing U.S. military operations. Woodruff was the only journalist invited to attend the dinner.
Obama said his letter to Karzai aimed to curb further danger to U.S. troops on the ground. It reportedly expressed regret for the apparently inadvertent burning of the Korans, the sacred text of Islam, on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
Still, the president's critics and some members of the military have questioned the appropriateness of the move, given the subsequent murder of two U.S. military officers at the hands of an Afghan inside one of the capital's secure ministry buildings.
"Everything else -- the politics or second guessing of these various decisions -- I'm not worried about," Obama said.