News / Asia

Drone Strikes to Top Obama-Sharif Talks

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks towards photographers as he meets with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, Oct. 20, 2013.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks towards photographers as he meets with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, Oct. 20, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan are due to meet Wednesday at the White House.  They will discuss a relationship marked by tensions in recent years, including the issue of U.S. drone attacks.

The talks come amid signs of improvement in a relationship that while unsteady, is one Washington describes as extremely important to U.S. regional and global security.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Sunday as he met with the Pakistani leader.

"The relationship with Pakistan could not be more important.  On its own, a democracy that is working hard to get its economy moving and deal with insurgency and also important to the regional stability," he said.

The U.S. recently released more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid suspended after relations deteriorated following the 2011 U.S. special forces raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin-Laden.

Strained relations

Relations were also strained by a NATO air strike that mistakenly killed Pakistani border guards, and an incident in which a CIA contractor killed two men in Lahore, Pakistan.

Obama has spoken of the crucial role for Pakistan as American and other foreign forces move closer to a planned 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But in Pakistan, one major issue of concern remains the drone strikes the United States continues to carry out, though on a lower scale, targeting suspected al-Qaida and militants.

"There is however the matter of drone strikes, which have deeply disturbed and agitated our people," said Sharif, who spoke Tuesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter says it is healthy for the debate over drones to be occurring at this time.

"Talking about drones and the difficulties that drones have posed as an issue is only the prelude to talking about counter-terrorism and the way in which both countries decide they are going to work together or not," he said.

Dan Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the United States and Pakistan are not in alignment over which groups are targeted by drones.

"Both of them are willing to go after al-Qaida core leadership to some extent and both of them are certainly willing to go after Pakistani Taliban," he said. "There has been difference of opinion on Afghan Taliban and in particular [the] Haqqani network which the U.S. has seen as being affiliated with al-Qaida, has been wanting to target and has been targeting with drones, and which Pakistan sees as being less of a threat and certainly not a direct threat to Pakistani civilians or the Pakistani state."

Human rights groups critical

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued reports Tuesday detailing civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes and calling for more transparency from the Obama administration.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States is reviewing the reports, but reiterated Obama's defense of the legal framework for use of drones.

"To the extent these reports claim that the U.S. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree," he said. "The administration has repeatedly emphasized the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counter terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law."

Obama spoke about the drone issue during a major speech on U.S. counterterrorism policy last March.

"By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life," he said.

Under Obama drone strikes in Pakistan reached a peak in 2010, but have sharply decreased.  

Sharif spoke on Tuesday of the need to leave in the past a "trust deficit" in U.S.-Pakistan relations.  But it is clear that the drone issue will continue to be one of the most challenging issues for both sides.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
October 23, 2013 9:32 AM
Shameful Islamists who possess or seek to obtain the weapons of the mass destruction and are ready to use it, cry hysterically against the use of the high-precision weapons of the America and Israel.

The drones are dangerous for the terrorists and other criminals only.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid