The Drone Strikes Will End Soon, John Kerry tells Pakistan

Mike O'Brien

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the U.S. plans to end drone strikes in Pakistan.

Mr. Kerry spoke out in a TV interview after meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

His aim was to send out a message of hope that years of anti-American grievances will come to an end.

He said: "I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it.

"I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it's going to be very, very soon."

Areas near the Afghan border that are a stronghold for various militant groups aligned with al Qaeda and the Taliban, have been targeted by U.S. drones since 2004.

Pakistanis blame the strikes for scores of civilian casualties and say that they are an abuse of their sovereignty.

A NATO air attack in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed has only made relations even more strained, Reuters reports.

Mr. Kerry said: "I want to emphasize the relationship is not defined simply by the threats we face, it is not only a relationship about combating terrorism, it is about supporting the people of Pakistan, particularly helping at this critical moment for Pakistan's economic revival."

He added that he has invited Mr. Sharif to visit the United States, Pakistan's biggest donor, for talks with President Obama.

"What was important today was that there was a determination ... to move this relationship to the full partnership that it ought to be, and to find the ways to deal with individual issues that have been irritants over the course of the past years," Mr. Kerry said.

"And I believe that the Prime Minister is serious about doing that. And I know that President Obama is also."

The use of drones will be discussed at IDGA's Homeland Security 2013 summit in October. For full details, go to