ISLAMABAD -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey's request for the deployment of NATO missiles in the country was aimed at boosting Turkey's defensive capabilities against possible attacks on a NATO ally.
"This is a defensive step which we have taken as Article 4 of the founding treaty of NATO makes Turkish territory a territory of the Alliance itself. The missiles will be deployed where our military decision makers deem necessary. This is entirely a defensive measure against possible attacks from the other side," Erdogan told reporters in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he is set to participate in a meeting of the Developing-8 countries.
Turkey on Wednesday placed a formal request to NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles possibly on along the Syrian border which saw an escalation of tensions between the two neighbors after a stray Syrian shell had landed in Turkey killing five people.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that NATO would discuss Turkey's request without delay.
"If approved, the deployment would be undertaken in accordance with NATO's standing air defense plan. It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots," he said.
The United States, Germany and The Netherlands are the only NATO members to have Patriot missiles in their arsenals.
During the Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003, NATO deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey but they were never used.
Rasmussen said a NATO team would visit Turkey next week to conduct a site-survey for the possible deployment of the missiles.
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