The United States has been holding negotiations only with Poland and the Czech Republic in order to put a third anti-missile component in Europe, the US Embassy in Ankara has said, stressing that no negotiation with Turkey on this issue is under way.
Earlier this month the Pentagon stated that US efforts to secure an agreement to base components of a global missile defense shield in Eastern Europe was on the agenda of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' talks with Turkish officials during an official visit to Ankara late last month.
US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow made clear yesterday that the issue was "briefly discussed" during Gates' talks in Ankara.
"The United States has been holding negotiations concerning missile defense facilities only with Poland and the Czech Republic. It is true that the issue of missile defense came up during Defense Secretary Gates' talks here; however, the majority of the talks here were focused on the issue of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK]," Schalow told Today's Zaman.
"Last summer Turkey mentioned launching a bid to buy a medium-range missile defense system. Defense Secretary Gates said that any purchase by Turkey should be in coordination with NATO's defense. He said that Turkey should discuss this issue with its NATO allies," Schalow added.Last month, a US general building a multibillion-dollar shield said that the US has hoped to put a third major anti-missile component in Europe along with those under negotiation with Poland and the Czech Republic to counter Iran.
The powerful, "forward based" radar system would be placed in southeastern Europe, possibly in Turkey, the Caucasus or the Caspian Sea region, Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said in remarks delivered at a defense technology conference sponsored by Aviation Week magazine.
Meanwhile in Tehran, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that "deployment of US missiles in the Middle East is doomed to failure."
In an apparent response to media reports that US Vice-President Dick Cheney would raise the issue with Turkish officials in an upcoming visit to Turkey, spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that such a plan would trigger an arms race and was detrimental to the interests of regional states, Iran's official IRNA new agency reported.
"Of course, the Turkish officials have not commented on the issue. The US missile base is a military and security threat to the region," he was quoted as saying by the agency.
Last Mod: 18 Mart 2008, 17:08