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Drone strikes lawful,effective: US

White House justification means a virtual no to Pak PM’s demand for end to drone strikes.

The Obama Administration has virtually said “no” to the Pakistani demand of an “end to the drone strikes”,saying such attacks against terrorist groups are not only precise,but also “lawful” and “effective”.

“The US counter-terrorism operations are precise,they are lawful,and they are effective,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday.

His remarks came immediately after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded an end to the drone attacks and two eminent rights body released reports alleging that the drone attacks have resulted in large scale civilian casualties and by doing so US has violated international law.

One of the conditions for ending the drone strikes,

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top administration officials indicated,would be elimination of safe havens; which is unlikely to be achieved in the near future.

“The United States does not take lethal strikes when we or our partners have the ability to capture individual terrorists. Our preference is always to detain,interrogate,and prosecute. We take extraordinary care to make sure that our counter-terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law and that they are consistent with US values and US policy,” Carney said.

State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that the answer to the Pakistani demand of ending the drone attacks can be neither yes nor no. “It’s just more complicated than that,” she said. “Counter-terrorism’s a shared threat; we’ll continue talking about it with them going forward,” she said.

The Obama administration differed with the assessment Amnesty International and the Human Rights Group. While the Amnesty found 29 civilians had been killed in the nine Pakistan strikes it investigated,the HRW said 57 civilians were killed in six Yemen strikes.

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“We are reviewing these reports carefully,” the White House Press Secretary said.

Need to combat terror,Biden tells Sharif

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

WASHINGTON,OCTOBER 23

The US Wednesday underlined the need to combat terrorism and violent extremism as Vice President Joe Biden met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,hours before his talks with President Barack Obama.

“Such a joint effort by the US and Pakistan is essential to strengthen regional and national security,” Biden noted during the meeting held at his Naval Observatory residence.

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Later in the day,Biden was scheduled to join Obama at the White House for his maiden meeting with Sharif.

“The Vice President affirmed to the Prime Minister that together we must continue to combat terrorism and violent extremism and work to strengthen regional and global security,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden congratulated Sharif on his win in the historic election in May,which led to the first democratic transfer of power between elected governments in Pakistan’s history.

He reaffirmed the US commitment to strengthening bilateral ties in support of a strong,democratic,prosperous Pakistan,the White House statement said.

“The Vice President and Prime Minister also discussed many of the economic and development challenges that Pakistan faces and the steps being taken to address them,” the statement said.

‘Release doc who helped us track OBL’

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

Washington,October 23

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A group of top US lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to release Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi,who allegedly helped the US to track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

“I specifically pressed the Prime Minister to release Dr Shakil Afridi and encouraged him to ensure that his nation is in fact a responsible and effective partner in countering terrorism,proliferation and violent extremism in the region,” Congressman Ed Royce,Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee,said.

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Afridi,who was arrested immediately after the May 2,2011 operation by the US commandos that killed Osama bin Laden,was convicted for treason over his alleged ties to militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.

Meanwhile,in Pakistan,the doctor has sought a fresh probe into his conviction in the treason case and a tribunal in federally administered tribal areas will hear arguments from his legal counsel on October 30 to determine whether the case merits fresh probe.

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Royce and 16 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee met Sharif at the Rayburn House building at the US Capitol on Tuesday.

First published on: 24-10-2013 at 01:17 IST
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