"I think the [drone] program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it, I think the President has a very real timeline and we hope that it's going to be very, very soon," Kerry said.

The State Department, however, said that this is not reflective of any change in US policy on drone strikes in the region. "This was in no way indicating a change in policy. It's really been reinforcing things, I think we've said for months on this," added State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

"Clearly the goal of counterterrorism operations, broadly speaking, is to get to a place where we don't have to use them because the threat goes away," she said. "Now, we're all realistic about the fact that there is a threat that remains and that we have to keep up our fight in this and other places around the world," she added.

US President Barack Obama, in a speech in May this year had said that US has made significant progress against core al-Qaida by using these exact counterterrorism tools.

She added that Kerry has reinforced the changes that US expects to take place in the program over time, but there is no exact timeline to provide. "Obviously, a lot of this is driven by the situation on the ground," Harf said.

Harf said that no one is talking about depriving US government of a tool against terrorists. "I think there's a difference between reducing the threat so much that you can use the tool less, or even possibly in a certain part of the world," she added.

“There's a difference between that and saying we're going to deprive ourselves of a tool," she said. "Clearly, the President and the Secretary both believe that we need to use the tools that we have to defend United States and our interests," she added.

(Agencies)

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