Kerry's comment on drones not reflective of policy changes: US
Comments by the Secretary of State, John Kerry regarding ending armed drone operations in Pakistan, is not reflective of any change in US policy in this regard, the US State Department said.
Washington: Comments by the Secretary of State, John Kerry regarding ending armed drone operations in Pakistan, is not reflective of any change in US policy in this regard, the US State Department said.
"I think the [drone] program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it, I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it's going to be very, very soon," Kerry had said in an interview with Pakistani television.
The State Department, however, said this is not reflective of any change in the US policy on drone strikes in the region.
"This was in no way indicating a change in policy. It's really been reinforcing things I think we've said for months on this," said Marie Harf, State Department spokesperson.
"Clearly the goal of counter-terrorism operations, broadly speaking, is to get to a place where we don't have to use them because the threat goes away," she said.
"Now, we're all realistic about the fact that there is a threat that remains and that we have to keep up our fight in this and other places around the world," she added.
US President Barack Obama, in a speech in May this year had said that the US has made significant progress against core al Qaida by using these exact counterterrorism tools.
"But that as we make that progress the need to use these tools will, of course, be reduced," said Harf.
She added that Kerry has reinforced the changes that the US expects to take place in the program over time, but there is no exact timeline to provide.
"Obviously, a lot of this is driven by the situation on the ground," Harf said.
"The goal here is, of course, that as we have success against al Qaida - which we've talked about a lot the success we've had in this region of the world against core al Qaida - that the tool will obviously - we need to use this tactic less going forward, and that's what the Secretary was referencing," she said.
Harf said no one is talking about depriving the US government of a tool against terrorists.
"I think there's a difference between reducing the threat so much that you can use the tool less, or even possibly in a certain part of the world, hypothetically speaking, not have to use it anymore," she said.
"We are not there in this region. There's a difference between that and saying we're going to deprive ourselves of a tool," she said.
"Clearly, the President and the Secretary both believe that we need to use the tools that we have to defend the United States and our interests," she added.
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