Saturday, 24 November 2012

Turkey Patriot missiles request, not for offensive aims: Rasmussen

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Turkey’s plan for the deployment of surface-to-air Patriot missiles along the Syrian border does not pursue any “offensive” objectives.

According to NATO spokesperson Carmen Romero, in a Friday telephone conversation Rasmussen reassured Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the deployment “would in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operations.” 

Earlier this week, Ankara requested its NATO partners to deploy the surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its border with Damascus. On Wednesday, the NATO chief said in a statement the military alliance would discuss Turkey’s bid “without delay.” 

Rasmussen further told Lavrov that “such a deployment would augment Turkey's air defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey.” 

The comments came after Russian foreign minister said that the Turkish move could spark a regional conflagration, adding that any deployment of Patriot missiles by Turkey could tempt Ankara to use the weapons and spark a “very serious armed conflict” involving NATO.

Lavrov highlighted that “I understand that no one has any intention to see NATO get sucked into the Syrian crisis,” but “the more arms are being accumulated, the greater the risk that they will be used.” 

According to an unnamed diplomat, Turkey’s request is set to be responded to early next week after military experts of the alliance review the bid. 

If NATO's other 27 member states meet the request, Germany and the Netherlands as the alliance members that own the systems will deploy batteries of the US-made missiles in the coming weeks. 

Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. Damascus says the anti-Syria Western states and some of their regional allies are responsible for the turmoil.


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