Today's Zaman, Turkey
June 22 2012

Erdoń?an: US drone sale to Turkey not likely before US elections

22 June 2012 / EKREM DUMANLI, RIO DE JANEIRO

The United States is unlikely to consider a Turkish request to
purchase armed drones to be used in anti-terror operations before
presidential elections in November, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdoń?an has said.

Erdoń?an, speaking to journalists accompanying him during a visit to
Mexico and Brazil on Thursday, said there is no problem in cooperation
between the US and Turkey regarding the fight against terrorism, but
that the sale of armed drones faces challenges in Congress. He said
the US had told Turkey that it would be difficult to approve the sale
of the armed drones before the November elections.

Turkey wants to buy armed MQ-9 Reapers to be used in its fight against
the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist group, but the sale has
been thwarted by opposition within the US Congress. Some members of
Congress oppose the drone sale to Turkey due to the crisis in
Turkish-Israeli relations, while President Abdullah GŁl has earlier
said that the Obama administration is willing to sell the drones to
Turkey.

Erdoń?an had talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a
G-20 summit in Mexico earlier this week. Officials close to the talks
said cooperation in the fight against terrorism was among the issues
discussed.

Debate over the planned sale has heated up lately following a US
report claiming that American drones monitoring the Turkish-Iraqi
border provided the first intelligence to Turkish officials about a
group of Kurdish villagers smuggling goods from Iraq into Turkey.
According to a news report published in The Wall Street Journal, the
US drones alerted Turkish authorities to the group's presence. The
villagers were assumed to be PKK terrorists and were attacked by
Turkish warplanes, leaving 34 civilians dead. Turkish officials have
denied receiving any such report, and some critics have dismissed the
report as a manipulative attempt to feed suspicion about the proposed
sale to Turkey.

Clean slate with France

Erdoń?an also spoke about his meeting with new French President
FranÁois Hollande on the sidelines of the Rio+20 UN Conference on
Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, describing it as
`very good.'

Erdoń?an met with Hollande in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, where the
two leaders emphasized the necessity of opening a new chapter in
bilateral relations following a difficult period in the relationship.

During the term of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
Turkish-French relations became strained due to issues around the
`Armenian genocide' denial bill and Turkey's EU negotiations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoń?lu announced on Thursday that
Erdoń?an had given instructions following his meeting with Hollande to
lift sanctions on France. `The prime minister gave the necessary
instructions after meeting with Hollande. Because of this new attitude
from France, these sanctions will be dropped," Davutoń?lu said during
an interview with news broadcaster CNN TŁrk.

Turkey imposed sanctions on France after the nation's assembly
endorsed a bill in December making it a crime to deny that the World
War I-era mass killings of Armenians constitute genocide.

Erdoń?an concerned over Egypt

Assessing developments in Egypt, Erdoń?an said he is watching unfolding
events there with concern.

Islamist candidate Mohamed Morsi claimed a victory on Monday in
Egypt's presidential vote, just hours after the country's military
rulers stripped the office of its most important powers.

`Mohamed Morsi won the elections. But I see that there is an effort
not to give him the authority,' Erdoń?an said, adding that the ruling
military council is making plans to hastily change the constitution.
He said he had discussed this issue with Obama and they agreed that no
one should interfere with ballot boxes.



From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress