John Kerry pledges early end to Pakistan drone strikes

US Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone (file picture) Many Pakistanis resent the casualties from drone strikes

US Secretary of State John Kerry has concluded a visit to Pakistan by pledging to end drone strikes against militants "very, very soon".

Correspondents say his comments are intended as a message to ease anti-American resentment in strategically important Pakistan.

On Thursday Mr Kerry agreed to resume high-level talks over security issues.

The talks were stalled after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by the US on the Afghan border in 2011.

'Sovereignty violation'

CIA drone strikes have killed up to 3,460 people in Pakistan since 2004.

Start Quote

We are here to speak honestly with each other, openly about any gaps that may exist that we want to try to bridge”

End Quote John Kerry US Secretary of State

Most strikes take place in the troubled border region of North Waziristan, which is regarded as an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who won elections in May, met Mr Kerry on Thursday.

Mr Sharif has consistently demanded an end to such attacks, saying they violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

His foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, told reporters the US should stop the strikes "not just curtail them".

Correspondents say the issue is complicated by the fact that some Pakistani officials have been accused of criticising the use of drones in public while co-operating with them in private.

'Constructive and positive'

"I think the programme will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it," Mr Kerry said in a television interview.

US drone strikes in Pakistan

  • Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recorded 368 drone strikes in Pakistan
  • Every strike has to be approved by US president
  • Vast majority carried out under Barack Obama
  • Four US citizens killed in strikes since 2009

"The president has a very real timeline and we hope it's going to be very, very soon," he said when asked whether the US had a schedule for ending the strikes.

Analysts say his comments went further than those of President Barack Obama, who said in a 23 May speech that drone strikes would decrease in "the Afghan war theatre" as US troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

The number of strikes has fallen significantly over the past 30 months - totalling 17 so far this year compared to 48 in all of 2012 and 73 in 2011, according to estimates compiled by the New America Foundation.

Speaking after meeting Mr Sharif on Thursday, Mr Kerry said their talks were "constructive" and "positive".

"We are here to speak honestly with each other, openly about any gaps that may exist that we want to try to bridge," Mr Kerry said. "Our people deserve that we talk directly."



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  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    1. The US went into Afghanistan to remove a safe haven for international terrorist training.
    2. Terrorists found a safe haven in neighboring Pakistan
    3. From there they threaten the stability still being fought for in Afghanistan.
    4. Pakistan is unwilling/unable to solve the problem in their own borders. 5. So, as long as 1-4 are true, I don't see why the US should stop drones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    Imagine if Pakistani drones were murdering Americans on US soil, do you think they would stand for it?

    America should be totally ashamed of the way they have behaved since 911. A terrorist attack does not give you free reign to steamroller over the rest of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    I any other country were doing what the Americans are they would be boycotted and banned from all organisations like NATO and the other international alliances that mark the other liberal, law abiding nations

    They would also have to appear before the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

    Why are they exempted from all moral international codes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    I assume the Taliban have also pledged to stop launching attacks very very soon & Pakistan will put it's house in order very soon.
    The tradgedy of this mess is the innocent people that get caught up in the bloody mess both from Drone Strikes and Insurgent attacks/executions.The West needs to learn a lessons & let the other parts of the world stew in their own mess without interference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    We'll see!
    Eisenhower warned us of the "Military Industrial Complex",

    Drowns allow you to wage war at a distance. No inconvenient body bags.
    American has been at war, in some part of the world, since WW2. War is good for business, is good for lobbyists, is good for shareholders.

    Hopefully, Kelly as an ex patrol boat commander will know the reality of war and see through hype.


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