- Title: BELGIUM: NATO set to approve deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey.
- Date: 4th December 2012
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (DECEMBER 4, 2012) (REUTERS) JOURNALISTS AND RASMUSSEN SPEAKING RASMUSSEN ON MONITOR
- Embargoed: 19th December 2012 12:00
- Location: Belgium
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAE0FKX9MQT70UUXKL4P9R0T1W4
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: NATO foreign ministers will agree on Tuesday (December 4) to send Patriot missiles to beef up Turkey's air defences and calm Turkey's fears that it could come under missile attack, possibly with chemical weapons, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Turkey last month asked NATO for Patriots, which can be used to intercept missiles and planes, after weeks of talks with allies about how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, which is immersed in civil war.
Rasmussen said NATO allies were ready to support Turkey's request.
"Turkey has asked for alliance's support and we stand in full solidarity with Turkey. I would expect NATO allies to make a decision later today. I am confident we will demonstrate our determination to deter against any threat and defend our ally because this is what our alliance is all about. As we have already made clear, any deployment would be defensive only. It would in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation. I have already told that to Foreign Minister Lavrov in the spirit of full transparency," Rasmussen said as he arrived for the two-day meeting.
Russia has opposed the move and Russian foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to reiterate his country's position when he meets with NATO allies later in the day.
Russia, which has a fractious relationship with the military alliance, has been at odds with NATO over how to end the Syrian conflict and has vetoed U.N. resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to step down.
The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are the countries expected to supply Turkey with Patriots, Rasmussen said. Germany and the Netherlands may need parliamentary approval to send the missiles. Rasmussen said the deployment could take place '"within weeks".
"I would expect Germany, the Netherlands and the United States to be able to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey. Once the political decision has been made, it will be followed by practical deployment. When that exactly will happen will depend on a number of practical issues that will be sorted out in the very near future so I can't give an exact date but I will tell you that the actual deployment of missiles will take place within weeks," Rasmussen said.
Asked about possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, Rasmussen said that any such act would provoke an immediate international response.
"The possible use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable for the whole international community and if anybody resorts to these terrible weapons I would expect an immediate reaction from the international community," Rasmussen told journalists.
NATO allies will also discuss Afghanistan and relationships with Georgia.
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