REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Saturday called the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan to express condolences for the loss of American lives in violence tied to anger over the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base there.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of Western troops in the country, earlier Saturday had ordered all Western advisors withdrawn from Afghan government ministries after the shooting deaths of two U.S. military officers at the Afghan Interior Ministry.
In a statement, the White House said Obama thanked Allen for the "measures he is taking to protect our service members and civilians in Afghanistan and to encourage calm."
"We welcome President [Hamid] Karzai's statement this morning encouraging peaceful expressions, and his call for dialogue and calm," the statement read. "The United States remains committed to a partnership with the government and people of Afghanistan, as we work to realize our shared goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda and strengthening the Afghan state."
On Thursday the White House confirmed that Obama had sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for the burning of Korans by international forces in the country, saying it was done unintentionally.
-- Michael Memoli
Photo: Afghans carry a wounded man Saturday during an anti-U.S. demonstration in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Credit: Ezatullah Pamir / Associated Press