The mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden was “justified, lawful and right”, David Cameron has said.
The British prime minister said the killing of the al-Qaida leader represented a “massive step forward” in tackling terrorism, although the world had to be alert to short-term reprisals.
Pakistan, where bin Laden was found, had “lots of questions” to answer, he said, but warned against a “flaming great row” with a leadership which was committed to tackling terrorism.
“There are lots of questions that need to be asked. And we should be tough in asking those questions,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“But we should deal with what we do know. And we do know that the Pakistan political leadership is fighting terrorism, we do know that country has suffered.
“We should work with those forces in Pakistan that want us to combat terrorism and extremism and make democracy take hold in that country. That is in our national interest.
“We could go down the other route of just having a flaming great row with Pakistan over this. I think that would achieve nothing.”
The president of Pakistan has dismissed claims that his country harboured bin Laden as “baseless speculation” as the US said it was determined to find out how the terror chief remained undetected.
Asked if he felt uneasy about the killing, Mr Cameron said he was satisfied that the operation was aimed at capturing the al-Qaida leader – but with lethal force allowed if necessary.
“I don’t think it is an eye for an eye. This man was responsible for literally thousands of deaths. The world is incomparably a better place without him in it,” he said.
“I think the operation was completely justified, lawful and right.
“We have to be very vigilant, particularly in the short term, because there will be dangers of reprisals from other parts of al-Qaida or lone-wolf operators.
“But it is definitely a massive step forward in breaking the back of al-Qaida and in defeating this terrorist network.”
Asked about reports that the information which led the CIA to bin Laden may have come from a suspect at Guantanamo Bay under torture, he said: “We don’t yet know that.
“The moral question in my view is that torture isn’t justified,” he said, and often resulted in unreliable information.
“When you start to shade it on issues like torture, you do immense harm to your moral authority in the world,” he said.
Mr Cameron said he had “a hunch” that bin Laden had been killed when he was awoken at 3am to take a terrorism-related call from Barack Obama.
“It is not every day that you are awoken in the middle of the night by the President of the United States of America,” he said.