Top state officials set to clarify Turkey's position on planned NATO missile shield
Ahead of a NATO heads of state summit slated for November 19-20 in Portugal, top state officials are set to convene today at the Cankaya Presidential Palace to review preparations for the meeting, which is expected to be dominated by discussions of a planned missile defense system under the umbrella of the 28-member security alliance. President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner, along with other high-level government and military officials, will meet in order to clarify Turkey's position on the planned missile defense system and an intended new security concept for NATO. Anonymous diplomatic sources said that since Turkey's conditions to extend support for the planned missile shield have been accepted by NATO, at the summit Ankara will give the system the go-ahead. NATO works on consensus, and the approval of all member states is needed to put the missile shield into practice. Turkey opposes the missile defense system naming any country, particularly Iran or Syria, as a target or potential threat. Turkey has also urged that the system provide equal security and protection to all members of the alliance, and that the system be managed not by the US but NATO itself. Preventing non-NATO member states from benefiting from the system is also among Turkey's conditions. In an interview with The New York Times earlier this week, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen seemed to agree with Turkey's concerns. Turkey fears that explicitly naming any country as the target of the planned system could disrupt its policy of zero problems with neighboring countries, and also could harm efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.