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The U.S. government on Tuesday unveiled new policies for exports of U.S. military and commercial drones, including armed drones, and said it would work with other countries to shape international standards for use of unmanned military systems. The State Department announced the long-awaited policy shift, saying it would allow exports of lethal U.S. military drones under strict conditions, including that sales must be made through government programs and that recipient nations must agree to certain "end-use assurances." A State Department official declined comment on Italy's request to add weapons to the Reaper drones it already flies, or Turkey's request for sales of an armed drone, but said the requests would be reviewed in light of the new policy. The official said the United States would continue to carefully monitor the use of any unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that were approved for export, much as it does other weapons. General Atomics, the privately held maker of the Predator drone, Northrop Grumman Corp and other weapons makers have been urging Washington for years to loosen strict curbs on drone exports, arguing that Israel and other countries have overtaken U.S. firms in the rapidly growing global market.
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