U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Thursday that U.S. drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan could end “very soon” as the threat of militancy recedes.
It is the first time that such a senior U.S. official has indicated that there could be a definitive end to the program, which the CIA has in the past called an effective counter-terrorism weapon.
The drone strikes target Islamist militants in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt, where Washington says Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives pose a threat to Afghanistan and the West.
Kerry made the remarks in an interview with Pakistan state TV following a day of talks with the newly elected government in Islamabad, which demands that the drone strikes cease.
Asked by the interviewer whether Islamabad could expect an end to the strikes, Kerry said: “I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it.”
Asked if a timeline was envisaged for ending the strikes, Kerry replied: “Well, I do. And I think the (U.S.) president has a very real timeline and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.”
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