Obama: Apology to Afghans helped 'calm things down'

President Obama said Wednesday that his written apology last week to Afghan President Hamid Karzai has helped "calm things down" following days of violent protests in the war zone.

While the apology — which came after U.S. troops burned Korans — may have helped ease tensions, "We're not out of the woods yet," Obama said in an interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff.


In the interview, Obama said he made the apology to "save lives and to make sure our troops who are there right now are not placed in further danger."

While some are calling for a speedier troop withdrawal saying the U.S. has done all it can do in Afghanistan, the president said he believes the majority of Afghan troops have "welcomed and benefitted from the training and partnering that we're doing.

"That doesn't mean there aren't going to some tragic incidents," he said. "That doesn't mean there aren't going to be bumps in the road."

In making his decision to issue the apology to Karzai, Obama said he received recommendations from those on the ground and made a decision based on "what is going to best protect our folks and make sure that they can accomplish their mission."

At the same time, Obama said he wasn't fazed by those who criticized the move as showing a sign of weakness.

"Everything else, the politics or second guessing of these various decisions, I'm not worried about," Obama said.

Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail have hammered the president for apologizing.

The president honored 78 Iraq war veterans — from all the military branches — at the White House on Wednesday night, some of whom will be deployed to Afghanistan to assist in efforts there. Obama said in the interview that he would discuss the progress being made in Afghanistan at the dinner.

"As difficult as Afghanistan has been, we are making progress because of the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform," Obama said. "The overwhelming majority of Afghan troops have welcomed and benefitted from the training and partnering that we're doing.

"When you think about it, the same was true in Iraq," the commander-in-chief added. "War is a tough business, and never goes in a perfectly good path. But because of the stick-to-it-ness of our teams, I feel confident that we can stay on a path that, by the end of 2014, our troops will be out and will not be in a combat role, and Afghans will have capacity, just as Iraqis to secure their own country."