Senior U.S. defense official expresses support for drones sale to Turkey

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A senior official from the U.S. Department Defense has said the administration put its support behind the sale of unmanned surveillance drone planes to Turkey, Anadolu Agency reported.

"We are supporting in principle the sale of unmanned aircraft and we are conducting informal consultations with the Congress to that end," Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told a panel discussion Monday in Washington as part of the 30th annual conference of the American-Turkish Council, or the ATC.

Vershbow, however, added that the relations between Turkey and Israel which went sour after the flotilla incident last year in May had been affecting the issue.

"This is not a secret. This topic is being influenced by the Turkish-Israeli relations. But just to repeat it, we do support the sale. We hope that circumstances will allow to make those consultations through formal channels," Vershbow said, adding that the Congress had sent some "mixed signals" over the issue.

The U.S. official said the U.S. considered the current state of Turkey's relations with Israel as a source of concern, adding that the two countries needed to engage in "a creative dialogue."

Turkey has requested from the U.S. to buy U.S. Predators and Reapers in its fight against PKK terrorism.

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