by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Dec 17, 2012
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday denounced claims by the head of Iran's armed forces that the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey was part of a plot to start world war.
"I completely denounce these allegations," Rasmussen said in response to a question at a news conference.
"We have made it clear right from the outset that the deployment of Patriots is a purely defensive measure.
"We are there to defend and protect Turkey. We have no offensive intention whatsoever."
At the request of member state Turkey, NATO has agreed to provide Patriot missiles to bolster its border defences amid tensions with the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On Saturday, the joint chief of Iran's armed forces General Hassan Firouzabadi said the Patriot deployment was part of a plot to "create a world war".
"The Patriot (missiles) are threatening. Each one of them is a black dot on the map, (setting the stage) to create a world war," he said. "This is very dangerous for everyone, and even for the future of Europe."
And Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cancelled a planned visit to Turkey just a day after his foreign minister too warned Ankara against hosting the US-made missiles.
"The deployment of Patriot missiles will achieve nothing but to provoke and, God forbid, result in being forced into an uncalculated action," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency.
"Their deployment will be more provocative rather than deterrent," he said, adding they would not "help regional security".
Iran's Ahmadinejad cancels Turkey visit: officials
Ahmadinejad had been officially invited to and was scheduled to attend the annual commemoration ceremony for Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the 13th century Persian Muslim theologian.
He was also to have met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian media reported.
But Ahmadinejad cancelled his visit because of a "busy schedule," Mehr news agency quoted the head of his international office, Mohammad Reza Forghani, as saying.
The cancellation came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned Turkey over plans to deploy NATO-controlled US-made Patriot missiles along its border with Syria amid tensions with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Deploying the missiles in Turkey is a "provocative" action which could have "uncalculated" results, Salehi said on Sunday.
On Saturday, the joint chief of Iran's armed forces General Hassan Firouzabadi warned that the Patriot deployment was part of a plot to "create a world war."
Relations between Iran, Assad's main regional ally, and Turkey, a vocal opponent of the Damascus regime, have been strained over the conflict in Syria.
Some Iranian officials have accused Turkey of arming Syrian rebels.
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