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Pentagon: Gates discussed missile defense in Ankara Servet Yanatma Ankara 12.03.2008

Ankara has not received any US proposal for the deployment of a missile defense shield on Turkish soil, diplomatic sources said yesterday, following Pentagon’s statement 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.

In response to a question during a news briefing on Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said on Monday that the missile defense issue came up during Gates’ talks with both President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as with the Turkish military. In addition to Gül and Erdoğan, Gates had talks with Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt during his visit.

US officials have so far briefed their Turkish counterparts concerning their plans on the issue, Turkish diplomatic sources told Today’s Zaman, noting that no proposal for Turkey’s participation has been conveyed to date. In case of receiving such a proposal, the issue will be evaluated by the military officials, the same sources added.

The US hopes to put a third major antimissile component in Europe along with those under negotiation with Poland and the Czech Republic to counter Iran, a US general building a multibillion-dollar shield said last month. 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 then in remarks delivered at a defense-technology conference sponsored by Aviation Week magazine.

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