U.S official in Turkey to discuss security

Feb. 4, 2013 at 9:11 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A Pentagon official was in Turkey Monday to meet with U.S. Embassy officials and discuss common security issues with his Turkish counterparts, officials said.

The visit to Ankara by Ashton Carter, deputy defense secretary, was scheduled in advance of Friday's attack on the embassy in which a suicide bomber struck a checkpoint on the facility's perimeter, killing a Turkish security guard and injuring two others, James Townsend Jr., deputy assistant defense secretary for European and NATO policy, said in a Pentagon release.

"The only impact that [bombing] will have is to make us more determined to carry on with this trip," Townsend said, "and to work with our Turkish colleagues to find out who did this and to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Carter's trip includes a visit to one of two U.S. Patriot missile batteries sent to Turkey as part of a NATO effort to protect the country from possible air attacks by Syria, which has had violent conflict between the government of President Bashar Assad and opponents of his regime since March 2011.

Germany and the Netherlands also are providing air-defense support.

With millions of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey and stray shells crossing the country's border with Syria, Townsend said, "The Turks are under a lot of pressure. They've come to NATO a couple of times to talk."

Carter will travel to Amman, Jordan, Tuesday to meet with U.S. Embassy personnel and government and defense leaders, the Pentagon said.

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