DIPLOMACY

Obama Vows to Avoid Afghan Deaths

Some mixed messages from Washington: The president, meeting Wednesday with the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan to form a counter-Taliban military strategy, promised to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Obama didn’t specifically mention the U.S. air strikes in the region that have been widely criticized for killing dozens of civilians, saying only that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the U.S. will “make every effort to avoid civilian casualties.” Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of her deep regret for the reported loss of civilian life due to U.S. air strikes. But the Defense Department is claiming the Taliban has framed the U.S.—and that the extremists killed the civilians, not the Americans. “What’s to say they would not take the next step of killing them and making it look like the Americans did it?” a Defense Department official asked.