Drone strikes to go on despite Pakistan's opposition: US
06 May, 2012
LAHORE: The US will continue to launch drone strikes against militant sanctuaries in Pakistan even if Islamabad keeps opposing them, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.
While Panetta declined to be more specific when asked about the unmanned vehicles because they "remain covert operations", he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's 'Conversations with Judy Woodruff' airing this weekend, "The United States was attacked on 9/11, and we know who attacked us."
"We know that al Qaeda was behind it," Panetta said, adding, "And we are going to do everything we can, use whatever operations we have to, in order to make sure that we protect this country and make sure that that kind of attack never happens again."
Told that sounded as if he meant drone attacks would continue, Panetta said, "The United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances."
Panetta said in the interview that Afghanistan was on the path toward stability "so that US and coalition forces could withdraw".
The country's military and police forces last year "were operational, they were involved in the battle and they've continued to do a great job in providing security", Panetta said.
"The Taliban is resilient," Panetta said. "They're going to be there. They're going to continue to attack. We do have problems obviously with Afghanistan corruption. So I don't think we ought to take anything for granted."
On Iran, Panetta said he was hopeful a solution would be found to prevent the nation from getting a nuclear weapon.
Recent global pressure on Iran indicates "there is now at least some glimmer there could be a diplomatic effort to try and see if we can resolve these issues", Panetta said. "The bottom line here is that Iran has to make clear that they're going to suspend any kind of nuclear enrichment," Panetta said.