By Claudette Roulo
The U.S. will work closely with its NATO allies to determine the best way to respond to a recent request from Turkey for Patriot missile support, a defense official said today.
Turkey is seeking to deploy the Patriot missiles along its southeastern border in an effort to de-escalate crisis conditions due to the civil war in neighboring Syria, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.
"The deployment would be defensive only," Rasmussen said. "It will in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation."
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a Nov. 15 Voice of America interview that the U.S. was talking with Turkey about the threats to its security. "Turkey is obviously facing a difficult situation as refugees pour into their country and they're threatened by the instability in Syria," he said.
"They have asked that we work with them to try to see what we can do to give them some missile defense capability," he continued. "And we are working with them. And our hope is that we can help provide that kind of assistance."
"If approved, the deployment would be undertaken in accordance with NATO's standing air defense plan," Rasmussen said. "It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots -- Germany, the Netherlands and the United States -- to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long."
"We will remain in close dialogue with our NATO allies as we work through this request for support. We take Turkey's concerns very seriously," the defense official said.