By Baris Gundogan and Sarp Ozer
A new letter of intent signed by Turkey, Italy, and France seeks to develop a new missile defense system, said Turkey’s defense minister on Thursday in Brussels.
Addressing a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Nurettin Canikli said projects covered under the letter could help cooperating countries develop “top" systems for defending against lone missiles -- such as a SAMP-T-based system -- as well as address Turkey’s current gaps in missile defense.
He added that Turkey’s future use of the Russian S-400 missile defense system -- which Turkey has committed to buy -- would also be covered.
Turkey’s NATO allies have questioned the S-400 purchase and suggested it would be incompatible with alliance systems.
Turkey on Wednesday signed a letter of intent with France and Italy aiming to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects.
Canikli also gave some details of his talks with his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is also in Brussels to attend the meeting.
"We had the opportunity to exchange opinions about recent developments in Iraq and Syria, as well as carry out a detailed discussion on the PYD, the PKK's Syria branch," he said.
Turkey has protested U.S. support for the PKK/PYD, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a group designated terrorist by Turkey and the U.S., while Washington has called it as a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh in Syria.
For more than 30 years, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians -- including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.
Advisors, not troops, to Afghanistan
"There is no effort from Turkey to send additional troops to Afghanistan," Canikli also said, amid a security situation that is widely seen as deteriorating.
"Instead, we will contribute advisors," he added.
Canikli said any personnel Turkey sends to Afghanistan "will not be combat troops," but instead personnel that "can train and advise troops."
- Over 2,300 PKK terrorists 'neutralized'
On Turkey's fight against terrorism, Canikli also said a total of 2,304 PKK terrorists have been “neutralized” by Turkish forces since Jan. 10, 2017.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorist in question was either killed, captured, or wounded.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.