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Pakistan border strike: For NATO and US, 'sorry' is the hardest word (video)

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Shakil Adil/AP

(Read caption) Pakistani protesters wave a Pakistani flag during a protest against NATO strikes on Pakistani soldiers, in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday. Pakistan said Tuesday it will boycott an upcoming meeting in Germany on the future of Afghanistan to protest the deadly attack by US-led forces on its troops, widening the fallout from an incident that has sent ties between Washington and Islamabad into a tailspin.

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How many ways can a diplomat say “sorry” without actually apologizing?

As the current imbroglio between Pakistan and NATO and the US shows, there are several levels of remorse or sadness that fall far short of actually taking responsibility for an action.

In a joint statement by the US departments of State and Defense, Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta offered “their deepest condolences” and “their sympathies” for the “loss of life” following a NATO bombardment of a Pakistani military border post along the Afghan border. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tweeted his condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers, calling the killings “regrettable” and “unacceptable.”

The NATO bombing killed some 24 Pakistan soldiers. US military sources say they had informed Pakistan that it planned to conduct a joint Afghan-US special operations raid on a Taliban base along the Afghan border, but Pakistan says it never received word. The joint Afghan-US mission called for air support after taking heavy fire during its mission, and the bombs struck the Pakistani post.

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