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Turkey Seeks U.S. Drones for Terrorism Fight, Ambassador Says

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Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey expects the U.S. will approve its request for drones it can use on its own in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, according to Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan.

Drones are among the requests Turkey has made of the U.S. to help thwart the PKK, which both countries list as a terrorist group, Nam said. The PKK operates largely in southeastern Turkey, near the borders with Syria and Iraq, where Turkish forces fight the group.

The U.S. has increased its own use of unmanned aerial vehicles over northern Iraq in recent years to aid in the fight. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Nov. 14 that four U.S.-operated Predator drones, which are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., moved from Iraq are operating from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey.

U.S. officials including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who visited the Turkish capital over the weekend, have “expressed a willingness to help us” fulfill the list of requests, Tan said. He declined to specify what Turkey has requested beyond unmanned aerial vehicles that it can use itself.

“They know what we want and we expect them to deliver,” Tan told reporters in Washington today at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “It includes, of course, the drones,” he said.

Turkey is interested in buying Predators or the General Atomics Reaper UAV, which can carry Hellfire missiles, the Washington Post reported Nov. 1. Alexander Vershbow, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told the American-Turkish Council in Washington that the drone sale was being held up by concerns in Congress about Turkey’s deteriorating relations with Israel, the Post reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net