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Canada drops weapons export controls to Turkey, including drone technology

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada on Monday said it had dropped weapons export controls to Turkey, including drone optical technology, according to a notice posted online, saying that from now on it would review all exports on a case-by-case basis.

Canada suspended drone technology sales to Turkey, a fellow member of NATO, in 2020 after concluding its optical equipment attached to Turkish-made drones had been used by Azerbaijan while fighting ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno Karabakh, an enclave Baku has since retaken.

Canada had linked resolving the export freeze with Turkey's welcoming of Sweden into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which it did last week.

Ottawa's announcement on Monday confirms a Reuters exclusive published last week.

Under the agreement to restart exports, Turkey will clearly indicate whether the items will be re-exported or transferred to a non-NATO country, with the exception of Ukraine, and in what form the item will be re-exported, the statement said.

Canada will examine each export on case-by-case basis and said it can cancel permits at any time if there is misuse, the statement said.

The notification process, which is standard under the international arms trade, covers Wescam sensors used in Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 drones and other dual-use goods and arms-related exports.

"The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) condemns the recent decision by the Government of Canada to lift its longstanding arms embargo on Turkey," the group said in a statement online.

"This decision has raised alarming concerns within the Armenian-Canadian community, as it compromises Canada's commitment to human rights, international security, and justice."

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil; Editing by Marguerita Choy)