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Friday, October 15, 2010     GET YOUR INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. presses Turkey to host missile defense assets

ANKARA — The United States is urging Turkey to host a Western-aligned ballistic missile defense site.


Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has relayed a series of messages to Ankara to consider a U.S. proposal for Turkey to accept missile defense batteries (BMDs).

Turkey has not approved the U.S. request to host BMD assets as part of NATO's umbrella against Iran and Syria. In June 2010, Ankara was the only NATO member to vote against United Nations sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, Middle East Newsline reported.

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The officials said the Defense Department has briefed the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan on Turkey's role in any NATO-led missile defense network.

"We think Turkey is on the front area against the threats," U.S. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary James Townsend said.

On Oct. 13, Townsend held talks in Ankara to discuss the NATO plan to deploy a missile defense system in Turkey. Officials said Turkey could serve as a first line of defense against Iranian ballistic missiles.

"As we look at where the ballistic-missile threats can come from, Turkey seems to us to be very much along the front lines," Townsend said.

"In terms of geography, Turkey would be a good place to have, you know, some capability there," Townsend, who attended a NATO session on Oct. 14, said.

Turkey has already submitted a request for the PAC-3 missile defense system from the United States. Ankara has also been briefed on BMD systems produced by China and Russia.

In Brussels, NATO called on members to invest in a missile defense system. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the missile defense shield cannot be suspended because of the economic crisis.

"The threat is clear, the capability is clear and the costs are manageable," Rasmussen said.

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