American drones have killed as many as 10 people in the first such missile strike since Barack Obama officially acknowledged the covert CIA programme.
The attack happened in North Waziristan, an area used by members of the Haqqani network to launch operations against international forces across the border in Afghanistan, according to local intelligence officials.
“Two missiles were fired on a compound killing at least 10 in a house believed to be in the use of militants,” said an intelligence official.
Foreign fighters may have been among the dead in the village of Tappi about 10 miles from the main town of Miranshah, he added.
The US had long declined to comment on the use of unmanned drones against militant targets in Pakistan.
The programme is hugely controversial and blamed by Pakistani politicians for turning tribesmen into Jihadis.
However, last month Mr Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after taking office, confirmed that the US was using unmanned aircraft in the skies over Pakistan.
“For the most part, they’ve been very precise precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” he said in a webchat.
Mr Obama’s administration has ramped up the use of drones as ground forces struggle to contain the militant threat in Afghanistan.
Tactics include targeting funeral gatherings and rescuers at the scene of recent attacks, according to research published by the Bureau of Investigative Reporting at the weekend.
The strikes were halted in November last year. Relations between the two allies nosedived in the aftermath of a Nato cross-border raid which killed 24 Pakistani troops.
However, the drones have since restarted their missions even though Pakistan has yet to re-open its roads to Nato supply convoys en route to Afghanistan.
BEIJING - China on Monday asked the United States to abandon its “Cold War mentality” and cease making groundless accusations against China, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Spokesman Liu Weimin made the remark at a daily press briefing when commenting on an annual national security threat assessment report delivered by the U.S. government.
The report stated that China has invaded American computer networks on a large scale, stolen intellectual property and conducted economic espionage. The report also named Chinese intelligence agencies as the biggest threat to the U.S. in relevant fields for the next few years.
Liu said the accusations are “totally fictitious” and were made with an ulterior motive in mind.
Cyberattacks are transnational and anonymous, Liu said, adding that it is “unprofessional and irresponsible” to deduce the source of an attack without a thorough investigation.
The spokesman said China has repeatedly declared its stance on issues regarding Internet security. China is willing to continue cooperation with the international community on safeguarding Internet security, he added.
WikiLeaks: US targets EU over GM crops
US embassy cable recommends drawing up list of countries for ‘retaliation’ over opposition to genetic modification
The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any Euroxpean Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show.
In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.
“The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices,” said Stapleton, who with Bush co-owned the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Texas Rangers baseball team in the 1990s.
In other newly released cables, US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.
Because many Catholic bishops in developing countries have been vehemently opposed to the controversial crops, the US applied particular pressure to the pope’s advisers.
Cables from the US embassy in the Vatican show that the US believes the pope is broadly supportive of the crops after sustained lobbying of senior Holy See advisers, but regrets that he has not yet stated his support. The US state department special adviser on biotechnology as well as government biotech advisers based in Kenya lobbied Vatican insiders to persuade the pope to declare his backing. “… met with [US monsignor] Fr Michael Osborn of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, offering a chance to push the Vatican on biotech issues, and an opportunity for post to analyse the current state of play on biotech in the Vatican generally,” says one cable in 2008.
“Opportunities exist to press the issue with the Vatican, and in turn to influence a wide segment of the population in Europe and the developing world,” says another.
But in a setback, the US embassy found that its closest ally on GM, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the powerful Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the man who mostly represents the pope at the United Nations, had withdrawn his support for the US.
“A Martino deputy told us recently that the cardinal had co-operated with embassy Vatican on biotech over the past two years in part to compensate for his vocal disapproval of the Iraq war and its aftermath – to keep relations with the USG [US government] smooth. According to our source, Martino no longer feels the need to take this approach,” says the cable.
In addition, the cables show US diplomats working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto. “In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain’s science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention.”
It also emerges that Spain and the US have worked closely together to persuade the EU not to strengthen biotechnology laws. In one cable, the embassy in Madrid writes: “If Spain falls, the rest of Europe will follow.”
The cables show that not only did the Spanish government ask the US to keep pressure on Brussels but that the US knew in advance how Spain would vote, even before the Spanish biotech commission had reported.