TEHRAN, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled a planned visit to Turkey after his military chief warned against deploying Patriot missiles on Turkish soil.
An unnamed Turkish diplomat confirmed the cancellation to the Turkish daily Today's Zaman, saying "an unexpected item" had turned up on the Iranian leader's agenda. The Iranian president, a staunch supporter of Syria's President Bashar Assad, had been invited by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend an event celebrating the Night of Reunion in the Anatolian province of Konya, marking the 739th anniversary of the passing of the Sufi mystic Rumi, Hurriyet Daily News said.
On Saturday, Iranian Chief of Staff Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said: "Every one of these Patriot missiles is a dark spot on the world map and is aimed at starting a world war," Press TV reported.
"Unfortunately one by one, the Western countries are approving deployment of Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria while they are planning a world war which is very dangerous for the future of humanity and Europe itself," he said.
Firouzabadi said the Patriot missiles "are a defense line for the Zionists and a result of [the West's] concerns over Iran's missiles and Russia's presence to defend Syria."
NATO recently approved Turkey's request to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria to defend Turkey from Syrian missile attacks.