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Sunday, January 16, 2011

U.S. denies Turkey's request for combat UAVs

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has rejected a Turkish request for combat unmanned aerial vehicles as well as advanced munitions. They said the administration's decision came after consultations with Congress late last year.
"There has been deep suspicion of Turkey in the United States, especially by Congress," an official said.

So far, the Senate has blocked a Turkish request for the MQ-9 Reaper combat UAV by General Atomics. Ankara first relayed the Reaper request in late 2008, which encountered a cool reception from a Congress wary of Turkish relations with Iran, Middle East Newsline reported.

"There's an effective arms embargo on some military products," a Turkish diplomat said. "We don't envision a significant change with the new Congress."

Officials said the Turkish arms requests would mark a priority on Ankara's agenda with Washington in 2011. They said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was heartened by Obama's appointment of Francis Ricciardone to the post of ambassador in Ankara, which had been blocked by the previous Congress.

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