As US seeks backing on missile shield plans, Turkey insists on terms
Turkey on Monday insisted that a planned NATO anti-missile system not be seen as a threat against any of its eastern neighbors, as this would threaten the flourishing economic and political bilateral ties of recent years, while US officials called on Ankara to agree to place part of the Europe-wide shield on Turkish soil. Speaking at panel discussions held as part of the two-day 29th Annual American-Turkish Council (ATC) Conference in Washington, both Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the talks over the proposed missile shield are continuing on the basis of mutual trust and dialogue. "Contrary to some press reports, we are not pressuring Turkey to make a contribution," said Gates. "But we do look to Turkey to support NATO's adoption at the Lisbon summit (next month) of a territorial missile defense capability." Amid these calls from the US for approval, Turkey is particularly seeking guarantees from the West that the system not be perceived as an anti-Iran or anti-Russia move.