US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said to reporters in Ankara on Saturday that the US entreats Turkey to join efforts to stop Tehran before Iran obtains nuclear weapons.
“The mutual goal of Iran not achieving a nuclear-weapons capability, that we completely agree on, we just need to reinforce,” Mullen said according to reports from Turkish news agency Anatolia and the Bloomberg network. Both countries need to “do all we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he added.
“I did not come here to question or in any way rebut Turkey’s decision not to support United Nations sanctions against Iran,” US President Barack Obama's principle military advisor said. “I note with gratitude your government’s stated intent to enforce those sanctions."
Mullen said that NATO is investigating the possibility of placing missile defense systems in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.
Admiral Mullen in Ankara on Saturday (Photo: AP)
He declined to comment on the Israeli takeover of the Turkish flotilla which left nine Turkish activists dead, saying only that he would just hope that Turkey and Israel "can recognize the importance of stability in this part of the world and learn lessons from what happened here and move forward.”
The US requires Turkey's military support, because Turkey borders both Iraq and Iran and has 1,700 troops in Afghanistan. Mullen praised the role of Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan and denied he had come to the Turkish capital in order to ask that Turkey do more in this arena.
He also denied claims that Washington is asking Ankara to allow it to take heavy military equipment out of Iraq via Turkey. “We do not transport weapons through Turkey, nor do we plan to in the future,” Mullen said. “Reports or suggestions to the contrary are simply false and completely without merit.”
Mullen spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for 45 minutes on Saturday. On Friday he met the new head of the Turkish armed forces, General Isik Kosaner, and with Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul.
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