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U.S. President and NATO Secretary-General Pledge to Reduce Civilian Casualties

On May 21 U.S. President George W. Bush and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pledged to try to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The two top officials met at the President’s private ranch in Crawford, Texas

President Hamid Karzai has spoken out publicly against the rising civilian death toll from U.S. and NATO operations. President Bush reiterated U.S. support for the Afghan people, and said that U.S. and NATO troops would exercise more caution in the field, blaming the Taliban for using human shields.

"The Taliban likes to surround themselves with innocent civilians," said President Bush. "They don't mind using human shields because they devalue human life."

"Every innocent civilian fatality, death, is one too many," said Secretary-General de Hoop Scheffer. "But in a conflict, it is, from time to time, unavoidable…We still have very much the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.”

President Bush encouraged his international allies to provide more manpower and equipment in Afghanistan and to lift some of the restrictions, known as national caveats, imposed on their troops engaging in battle.


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