German minister backs weapons-capable drones

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Associated Press

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 2 at 11:30 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's defense minister wants to buy weapons-capable drones to protect soldiers from attack, drawing criticism in a country where the U.S. use of drones to kill terror suspects has caused unease.

Ursula von der Leyen told lawmakers Wednesday that the German military has had positive experiences with a leased surveillance drone in Afghanistan. She said the unarmed drone could quickly spot an attack, but it would take "valuable minutes that could cost soldiers' lives" to call in support from a helicopter or jet.

Von der Leyen argued that a weapons-capable European drone should be developed over the coming years.

Opposition Left Party lawmaker Christine Buchholz said armed drones weren't invented to protect soldiers and told the minister: "The majority of the population doesn't want these weapons systems."

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