Turkish chief of staff reiterates UAV demand at US visit

Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for one hour in his office on May 10, as part of the official’s four-day visit to the United States.

Turkey’s ambassador to Washington Namık Tan and Gen. Yaşar Güler accompanied Gen. Özel to his meeting with Panetta. The issue of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was on the meeting’s agenda, daily Hürriyet reported. Gen. Özel said that because he is not a decision-maker, they only discussed the issues. He also said that he reiterated Turkey’s demands for the unmanned aerial vehicles, Reaper and Predator, during the meeting.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Spokesman Scott McIlnay said Gen. Dempsey and Gen. Özel discussed Turkey’s leadership role and security issues. The U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on May 10 welcomed Gen. Özel with full military honors at the Department of Defense in Washington, Anatolia news agency reported.

After the welcome ceremony, Gen. Dempsey and other senior officials briefed Gen. Özel in an extremely secure briefing room called “the Tank” inside the Pentagon. Recent incidents of violence in Syria were also high on the agenda during the briefing, daily Hürriyet reported May 11.

Following the briefing on May 10, Gen. Özel said his visit was very satisfying. Özel said “we are monitoring the developments,” when asked what was discussed in relation to Syria. Gen. Dempsey said he has talked with Gen. Özel about “trying to reach a common understanding on where we are today and where we want to go.” Gen. Dempsey also said the U.S. wants to continue its security partnership with Turkey, “a close friend and ally.” McIlnay said a series of security issues, including Turkey’s leading role in the region were discussed during Gen. Dempsey’s and Gen. Özel’s meeting. Gen. Özel and Gen. Dempsey had a luncheon. Gen. Özel also attended a dinner hosted by Gen. Dempsey and his spouse Deanie. A senior official defined the visit as a tour for the general, who will lead the Turkish Army until 2015, to get to know the U.S.