NATO to reply to Turkey's Patriot request 'in next few days'

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 30 Nov 2012

11/30/2012 16:43 GMT

BRUSSELS, Nov 30, 2012 (AFP) - NATO will reply "in the next few days" to a request from Turkey to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria, a spokeswoman for the alliance said Friday.

A decision could be announced during talks between foreign ministers from the 28 NATO nations taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at its Brussels headquarters, said sources close to NATO.

"We are making good progress," said Oana Lungescu, referring to a survey by NATO experts of sites suitable for the deployment of Patriot missiles.

"Everybody is working very hard to make sure we are in a position to make a decision on Turkey's request in the next few days," she added at a news conference.

"The Allies are considering the request from Turkey in a positive spirit," she said.

Turkey last week asked its NATO partners to deploy the surface-to-air missiles after a series of cross-border shellings, including an attack that left five civilians dead.

Military sources in Turkey have said NATO is considering the deployment of up to six Patriot batteries and some 300 foreign troops to operate the missiles.

The US-made missiles would likely be supplied by Germany, The Netherlands or the United States.

Ankara has said any Patriot deployment would be for defensive purposes only.

The NATO spokeswoman said that "such a deployment would augment Turkey's air defence capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey (...) It would serve as a deterrent to possible threat".

The issue will be discussed at the ministerial talks which will kick off with an informal NATO-Russia meeting attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

A week ago he warned against the deployment, saying it could create a temptation to use the weapons and spark a "very serious armed conflict" involving NATO.

"I understand that no one has any intention to see NATO get sucked into the Syrian crisis," Russian Foreign Minister told reporters last Friday.

But "the more arms are being accumulated, the greater the risk that they will be used," he added.

"Any accumulation of arms creates risks and probably tempts those who would like to more actively resort to the use of force from outside into using them."

"Any accumulation of weapons creates a risk that any provocation may trigger a serious armed conflict. We would like to avoid it at all costs," Lavrov noted.

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