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Report: Memos Unmask Pakistan's Approval Of Drone Strikes

While it is been "one of the more poorly kept national security secrets in Washington and Islamabad" that Pakistani leaders privately endorse U.S. drone strikes aimed at terrorists in their country, The Washington Post says that:

"Top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos" it has obtained show that "top officials in Pakistan's government have for years secretly endorsed the program and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts."

The Post's exclusive, written by intelligence correspondent Greg Miller and investigative legend Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, adds that:

"The files expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program. The documents detailed at least 65 strikes in Pakistan and were described as 'talking points' for CIA briefings, which occurred with such regularity that they became a matter of diplomatic routine. The documents are marked 'top ­secret' but cleared for release to Pakistan.

"A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. A CIA spokesman declined to discuss the documents but did not dispute their authenticity."

The report came just hours after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with President Obama at the White House. Voice of America writes that:

"As he has done elsewhere in Washington, Prime Minister Sharif called for an end to drone strikes the United States has used to target al-Qaida and militant figures in Pakistan's tribal areas."

But as NPR's Philip Reeves said Tuesday on Morning Edition:

"There's a difference between the public and the private positions of senior Pakistani government officials on this issue. Some senior figures in government and in the army are known to have in the past privately supported drone strikes. And, indeed, a certain element of the Pakistani public actually feels the same way."

Nawaz is expected to be back in Pakistan on Friday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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