Obama defends Afghan apology as necessary to 'save lives'

Afghans shout slogans during a protest in Ghani Khall. Afghans shout slogans during a protest in Ghani Khall. Rahmat Gul/AP

President Obama on Wednesday defended his apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans by NATO troops as necessary “to save lives,” but also said that "we're not out of the woods yet."

Though the apology, issued in a letter last week, has received criticism from GOP candidates for president, Obama stood by his decision in an interview with ABC’s World News.

He apologized, he said, “to save lives and to make sure our troops who are there right now are not placed in further danger.”

Obama added: “It calmed things down. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Protests continue in Afghanistan in response to what officials have deemed an accidental burning of Korans on Bagram Air Base, which took place last week. The violence has resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, including four U.S. soldiers. Top U.S. military officials have launched an investigation into the incident.

Critics have also derided Obama's choice to honor returning Iraq War veterans with a Wednesday-night dinner at the White House, rather than the customary parade. But Obama explained that he won't hold a parade until the war in Afghanistan is over as well.

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