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Clinton Says U.S. Won’t Renounce Use of Force Amid Drone Dispute

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, the U.S. “can and must do a better job of addressing the mistaken belief that we use our power casually.” Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t renounce the use of force against people it classifies as terrorists, after criticism of the military’s use of drones for attacks in Pakistan and other countries.

The U.S. “can and must do a better job of addressing the mistaken belief that we use our power casually,” Clinton said at a conference on counter-terrorism in Istanbul today. When it does use force against enemies, “we will comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war, and go to extraordinary lengths to ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life.”

U.S. officials said a drone strike in Pakistan this week killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, the second-in-command of al-Qaeda. Such attacks by unmanned aircraft have frequently caused civilian casualties, straining ties with Pakistan, which says they are illegal, and sparking a debate in Washington.

The 30-member Counterterrorism Forum that meets in Istanbul today was founded by Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in 2011.

Clinton said the group is working on ways to counter extremist ideologies, adding that the United Arab Emirates will this year open the first international center devoted to the study of best practices in that field. She said the forum is also working on recommendations for the rehabilitation of violent extremists in prison systems.

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