Washington, Sept 24 : US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has reportedly said that the US was justified under international law in conducting unilateral military operations inside Pakistan to protect American troops.
He also said that the US State Department must have consulted appropriate international laws before going ahead on launching unilateral strikes on Pakistani soil.
The US had recently stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan and US commandoes have conducted a covert operation inside Pakistan to combat extremists' attacks against the US forces inside Afghanistan.
Gates said that although Pakistan does not agree that international law permitted unilateral action, "the Pentagon had an obligation to protect US troops".
"The authorities we have been granted were carefully coordinated over a protracted period of time in the interagency. I would simply assume that...appropriate international law was consulted by the State department," the Financial Times quoted Gates as saying.
Gates was responding to Jim Webb, a Democratic Senator, who told the defence chief that the UN Charter, under which the US operates in Afgahnistan, gave the US the right of self-defence "where a foreign government is either unable or unwilling to take care of international terrorist activity inside its borders".