(U.S. President Barack Obamaat the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington, March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst )

More than half of Americans support President Barack Obama’s apology for U.S. troops burning copies of the Koran, an incident that triggered a spate of bloody protests and attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, 56 percent of those surveyed backed Obama, who has been criticized by U.S. Republican presidential candidates for apologizing to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Twenty-three percent disagreed.

While the spasm of violence that erupted following the incident on a NATO base in Afghanistan does not appear to have significantly altered Americans’ perspective on the war, 66 percent of those polled also said Washington should bring its troops home immediately.

Obama’s formal apology and the debate that decision created have underscored the delicate course the president must tread in his campaign for re-election in November.