World Bulletin / News Desk
President Barack Obama on Sunday defended his administration's drone-based counter-terrorism strategy against al Qaeda militants in Yemen, saying the alternative would be to deploy U.S. troops, which was not sustainable.
"It is not neat and it is not simple, but it is the best option that we have," Obama told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi.
Four months ago, Obama hailed Yemen as a model for "successful" partnerships in the fight against militants. But last week, the country's U.S.-backed government collapsed, and Iran-backed Houthi rebels took over.
Some U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday the United States has halted some counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda militants in Yemen following the takeover. However, other officials said the situation on the ground was fluid and described the halt as a temporary measure to assess chaotic conditions on the ground.
Obama said the United States has not suspended its counter-terrorism operations.
"We continue to go after high-value targets inside of Yemen and we will continue to maintain the pressure which we require to keep the American people safe," he said.
"What we have shown is that we can maintain the kind of pressure on these terrorist networks even in these kind of difficult environments," he said.
Meanwhile, Obama blamed Russia for the fighting that has flared anew between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine, and said the United States would consider additional options to ratchet up pressure on Moscow.
"We will continue to take the approach that we have taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia," Obama said. "And I will look at all additional options that are available to us, short of military confrontation, and try to address this issue."
Fighting has flared in Ukraine in recent days after the rebels ruled out more peace talks. On Saturday, 30 civilians were killed after rebels launched an offensive against the strategic port of Mariupol.
Russia, which the West accuses of supporting the separatists, prevented the U.N. Security Council on Saturday from criticising rebel statements and condemning the upsurge in violence.
Moscow denies sending forces and weapons to eastern Ukraine, despite what Kiev and the West say is irrefutable proof. More than 5,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in April last year.
"We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the ceasefire and the aggression that these separatists - with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops - are conducting," Obama said.
"I have been very clear that it would not be effective for us to engage in a military conflict with Russia on this issue. But what we can do is continue to support Ukraine's ability to control its own territory."
He said this has involved a combination of economic pressure on Russia through sanctions, providing Ukraine with the support it needs to sustain its economy, helping its military with basic supplies and equipment, and training and exercises with NATO.Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2015, 14:54