In a major speech outlining his foreign policy framework, Obama said there still would be times when America must go it alone "when necessary to protect ourselves."

"The partnership I've described does not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that's what we do – through capture operations, like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our Embassies in 1998 to face justice; or drone strikes, like those we have carried out in Yemen and Somalia," he said.

Addressing cadets at the graduation ceremony of the elite Military Academy in West Point, New York, Obama, also the Commander-in-Chief of the US military, reiterated his administration's policy he unveiled in May last year that no drone strike should occur unless there is "a near certainty" that no civilians will be harmed.

"But as I said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield," Obama said.

"I also believe we be more transparent about both the basis for our actions, and the manner in which they are carried out – whether it is drone strikes, or training partners," he said.

The US has carried out drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

However, there has not been a strike reported in Pakistan since December, the longest lull since Obama took office, apparently to support Islamabad's efforts to strike a peace deal with Pakistani Taliban. The outlawed militant group has demanded an end to drone strikes in Pakistan.

The US government has said strikes by the unmanned aircraft are a necessary part of the fight against militant groups.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has previously called for an end to the US drone strikes in the country, where it has stirred deep anti-America anger.

Pakistani officials say the drone strikes are against international law and the sovereignty of Pakistan and the operations were counterproductive to fighting terrorism.


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