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Drone committee meeting starts in German Bundestag

A Bundestag inquiry into German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere's role in the failed Euro Hawk project has begun. The drone program has turned into an expensive debacle for the embattled defense minister.

De Maiziere hasn't made clear what he knew about the EU drone project, which the Defense Ministry finally pulled the plug on in May - though it had already ordered several of the aircraft and the program's problems were clear long before that. Monday's meeting in the German parliament aims to get to the bottom of several questions surrounding the project, which cost 600 million euros ($790 million) and showed few results other than such high numbers. Grermany had received one prototype model of the four drones it ordered - and that sits unused in a hangar.

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Parliament works out the Euro Hawk disaster

"Since it became apparent that the minister lied to parliament and the public, I don't feel that his position is sustainable," the Social Democrat Rainer Arnold said ahead of the meeting. "Ministers cannot manipulate the truth," he added.

The meeting began at about 10 a.m. local time on Monday morning (0800 GMT) and will seek to uncover how much de Maiziere and other officials knew and why the project wasn't stopped sooner. WIth elections set for September, de Maiziere's testimony could further add to the woes of the shaky right-wing Christian Democrat-Free Democrat ruling coalition. The members of parliament are aiming to fit an investigation that could normally take several months into just a few days of committee testimony from 19 witnesses.

mkg/rc (AFP, dpa)

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