U.S. anticipated eviction from drone base

Dec. 5, 2011 at 1:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The United States had anticipated Pakistan's decision to evict it from a drone-launching base by building backup bases in Afghanistan, a defense official said.

As a result, the official told The Washington Times, the eviction from the Shamsi facility, operated by Pakistan's intelligence service, will have little impact on the CIA's ability to target terrorists in tribal areas with Predator drones.

"We have many redundancies," the official said. "We like to have multiple ways of doing things. It's not a big issue that would mean any huge degradation."

Pakistan ordered the United States to leave the Shamsi base and shut down a supply line to NATO forces in Afghanistan after NATO airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers Nov. 26.

The defense official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the Obama administration believes Pakistan announced the eviction to appease political and Islamic groups.

"They are dealing with multiple audiences," the official said.

President Barack Obama expressed condolences for the Pakistani soldiers' deaths Sunday in a phone call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the White House said in a statement.

Obama "made clear that this regrettable incident was not a deliberate attack on Pakistan and reiterated the United States' strong commitment for a full investigation," the statement said.

Both leaders "reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship, which is critical to the security of both nations, and they agreed to stay in close touch," the White House said.

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