State Dept. rules out change in drone policy
WASHINGTON (PAN): Notwithstanding Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks that the drone programme would end soon, the Obama administration on Thursday clarified there had been no change in its policy with regard to the highly successful tool against terrorists.
In an interview with a Pakistani news channel, Kerry said the drone program "will end" as the US had eliminated most of the threat and continued to eliminate it.
"I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it's going to be very, very soon," he said -- a statement that in many circles was interpreted that the drone programme would be brought soon to an end.
Such a notion was, however, refuted by the State Department which insisted Kerry’s remarks were not reflective of any change in the US policy on drone strikes. "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."
State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters: "Clearly the goal of counterterrorism operations, broadly speaking, is to get to a place where we don’t have to use them because the threat goes away. 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
President Barack Obama, in a speech in May. had said the US had made significant progress against the Al-Qaida core by using these exact counterterrorism tools.
As progress continued to be made, the need to use these tools would, of course, be reduced, she said, adding the president had been clear in his speech.
"Today, the secretary (Kerry) reinforced the changes that we expect to take place in the programme 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.
She maintained the goal was that the drone tool would obviously continue to be used. Harf said no one was talking about depriving the US of a tool against terrorists.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.