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Turkey pushes US for sale of drones: report
by Staff Writers
Ankara (AFP) May 22, 2012

Iraq and Iran exchange remains of soldiers
Baghdad (AFP) May 22, 2012 - Iraq and Iran on Tuesday exchanged the remains of 111 soldiers who were killed in the 1980-1988 war between the two countries, the Red Cross and Iraqi human rights ministry spokesman Kamil Amin said.

"The mortal remains of 98 Iranian and 13 Iraqi soldiers killed during the 1980-1988 war between the two countries were repatriated today at the Shalamja border crossing near Basra with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)," it said in a statement.

"This brings to 557 the number of people whose remains have been returned to their home countries with ICRC help since 2008," the statement said.

The exchange was completed during a ceremony that was attended by Mahdi al-Tamimi, the manager of the human rights ministry office in Basra, and Iranian Major General Mohammed Baqir Zada, Amin said.

Samples will be taken from the Iraqi remains to identify them and the information will be published in official newspapers, Amin said.

Up to one million people are estimated to have been killed in the Iran-Iraq war.

The Obama administration is trying to convince the US Congress to approve the sale of spy drones to Turkey for its campaign against Kurdish rebels, the Turkish president was quoted as saying Tuesday.

"Actually the administration has a positive stance (over the sale)," President Abdullah Gul was quoted as telling the Anatolia news agency in Chicago where he was attending a NATO summit.

"They (the administration) are trying to convince the Congress," he added.

The United States has deployed Predator drones to Turkey from neighbouring Iraq for surveillance flights in support of Ankara's fight against Kurdish rebels, Pentagon announced in November.

After US forces withdrew from Iraq in December, the four American unmanned aircraft were shifted from an air field in northern Iraq to the Incirlik air base in Turkey.

But Turkey wants to buy armed drones whose sale depends on an approval from Congress amid concerns that pro-Israeli lobbies may hinder such a sale due to Ankara's tense relations with the Jewish state.

A botched air raid launched by the Turkish military that killed 34 civilians in December may also complicate further sales.

Gul met with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the NATO summit late Monday.

"I've repeated our demands," said Gul. "It is necessary to trust, not envy such a country, which is an important ally. As you know, President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and her assistants are doing their best."

Gul declined to say how many drones Turkey wants to buy from the United States.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms for Kurdish independence in southeastern Turkey in 1984.

It sparked a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.


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Russia 'may buy' $50 mln worth of Israeli UAVs
Moscow (Voice of Russia) May 21, 2012
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