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MISSILE DEFENSE
NATO to consider Turkey request for Patriots 'without delay'
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Nov 21, 2012


German minister seeks missile mandate for Turkey
Berlin (AFP) Nov 21, 2012 - German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday that he would seek parliamentary approval for a military operation in Turkey by mid-December, after Ankara requested NATO help.

He was addressing the lower Bundestag house of parliament shortly after NATO announced it had received a request from member Turkey for a deployment of Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria.

Germany and The Netherlands are the two main European nations that possess the medium-range missiles made by US group Raytheon.

The German government would "prepare a mandate as quickly as possible and present it to the Bundestag", de Maiziere said, calling on lawmakers to discuss it December 10-14 at the latest.

He stressed the defensive nature of Turkey's request and dismissed fears the Patriot missiles could serve as protection for a no-fly zone in Syria or as part of an offensive operation as "baseless".

"We are determined to answer the request positively," de Maiziere said.

The operation would involve sending up to 200 German soldiers.

However the German minister was also critical of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza.

De Maiziere said that an alliance partner who was now receiving help could also be publicly condemned "and this is what I am doing".

Earlier German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that initial indications showed "the criteria which we have set are fulfilled" over Turkey's request to NATO for help.

He said it would be a mistake to deny support to a NATO member under attack.

According to a YouGov poll, 58 percent of Germans said they rejected any German deployment over the conflict in Syria, compared to 31 percent who said they supported it.

The poll was among 1,048 people between 19 and 21 November.

US 'favorably disposed' to Turkey's Patriots request
Washington (AFP) Nov 21, 2012 - The United States is "favorably disposed" towards Turkey's request to NATO to deploy surface-to-air Patriot missiles on its border with Syria, a US official said Wednesday.

"We obviously... take the security of our NATO ally, Turkey, very seriously and we would be favorably disposed to this," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We want to everything we can to protect our close ally," Toner told journalists, adding that the details of such a deployment still had to be worked out by alliance members.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen had said the alliance would consider the request "without delay,," and the body was to meet again later Wednesday.

Patriots are used to defend airspace by detecting and destroying incoming missiles and aircraft and became famous during the 1991 Gulf War as a defense from Scuds fired on Israel and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Turkey's border villages have been hit by artillery fire from Syria as forces loyal to Damascus battle rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad's regime, and tensions have spiralled between the two neightbors.

Diplomatic sources told AFP that NATO ambassadors meeting later Wednesday would likely approve the Turkish request while Rasmussen said a team would visit Turkey as early as next week to survey sites for a possible deployment.

Aside from the United States, Germany and The Netherlands are the main NATO nations that possess Patriots, medium-range ground-to-air missiles made by the US group Raytheon.

NATO deployed the missiles in Turkey during the 1991 Gulf war and in 2003 during the Iraqi conflict.

NATO will consider "without delay" a request from member Turkey for a deployment of surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria, Alliance chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday.

"I have received a letter from the Turkish government requesting the deployment of Patriot missiles," Rasmussen said in a statement.

"Such a deployment would augment Turkey's air defence capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey. It would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border.

"And it would be a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve," the statement said. "Nato will discuss the Turkish request without delay."

Expected for several days, the request was welcomed at a meeting of NATO ambassadors who should give their approval in coming days, a diplomatic source told AFP.

Rasmussen said a team would visit Turkey as early as next week to conduct a site-survey for the possible deployment of Patriots.

"The security of the alliance is indivisible," Rasmussen said.

"NATO is fully committed to deterring against any threats and defending Turkey's territorial integrity," he said.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Ankara on Tuesday that the surface-to-air missiles were "a precautionary measure, for defence in particular."

Originally used as an anti-aircraft missile, Patriots today are used to defend airspace by detecting and destroying incoming missiles and were made famous during the 1991 Gulf War as a defence from Scuds fired on Israel and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Turkey's border villages have been hit by artillery fire from Syria as forces loyal to Damascus battle rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"It is the very mission of NATO to supply the security of its members, when one of them is threatened by this level of border violations and faced with even further risks, like ballistic missiles," Davutoglu said.

Germany and The Netherlands are the two main European nations that possess the medium-range missiles made by US group Raytheon and Rasmussen said it was up to "individual NATO countries that have available Patriots... to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long."

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German parliament on Wednesday that he would seek parliamentary approval for a military operation in Turkey by mid-December, after Ankara requested NATO help.

The Dutch foreign ministry said the request was under consideration and that "solidarity between allies would be an important factor" in its decision to deploy Patriots or not.

The United States said it was "favorably disposed" towards Turkey's request.

"We obviously... take the security of our NATO ally, Turkey, very seriously and we would be favorably disposed to this," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

NATO deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey during the 1991 Gulf war and in 2003 during the Iraqi conflict.

Rasmussen said earlier this week that "the situation on the Syria-Turkey border is of great concern."

"We have all the plans ready to defend and protect Turkey if needed. The plans will be adjusted if necessary to ensure effective protection of Turkey," he said during talks with EU ministers on Monday.

Rasmussen said there was currently no question of imposing a no-fly zone with the back-up of the Patriot missiles.

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