Turkey to ask NATO for missiles on Syria border: German daily

BERLIN Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:14am EST

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkey will formally ask NATO on Monday to set up missiles on its border with Syria due to growing concern about spillover from a 20-month-old civil war in its neighbor, a German newspaper reported on Saturday.

The Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which did not cite its sources, also said that up to 170 German soldiers could be deployed as part of the mission.

Turkey said on Friday it had intensified talks with NATO allies on how to shore up security on its 900-km (560-mile) frontier with Syria after mortar rounds fired from Syria landed inside its territory.

"As we have said before, there have been talks between Turkey and NATO and NATO allies on various issues regarding the security risks and challenges and possible responses to issues regarding Turkey-NATO territories," a Turkish government official said, when asked about the Sueddeutsche Zeitung report.

"Normally we could not reveal the nature of NATO deliberations while they continue," added the official.

NATO has said it will do what it takes to protect and defend Turkey. Turkey has said it is talking to its NATO allies about a possible deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles.

A NATO spokeswoman said she could not confirm the report. "There hasn't been a request from Turkey. If there is a request from Turkey of course allies will consider it," she said.

NATO ambassadors would have to consider any request from Turkey and they have a regular weekly meeting next Wednesday but they could call a special one at any time. European Union defense and foreign ministers will be in Brussels on Monday for meetings.

For Germany, deploying troops abroad is a sensitive subject, even more than 65 years after the end of World War Two. It is unclear if such a mission would require the approval of the Bundestag lower house.

A spokesman for Germany's defense ministry also said NATO would consider any request from Turkey and confirmed that the United States, the Netherlands and Germany were the countries that had the appropriate Patriot missiles available.

"If NATO were to ask Germany, we would consider that and bear in mind our duties in the alliance," said the spokesman.

(Reporting by Nick Tattersall in Turkey, Adrian Croft in Brussels, Holger Hansen in Berlin; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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