Turkey Reassures Iran Over NATO Missile Defense Shield
Turkey's foreign minister made a special effort Saturday to reassure Iran that his country will not join any "foreign interference" against the Islamic Republic, according to a report published by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
The NATO defense shield missile radar system placed on Turkish territory in September has been a point of contention with Iran since it was installed. A similar system was also installed in Romania.
Speaking in a live Turkish public television political talk show, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that in spite of a number of differences in the viewpoints of the two countries over the system's existence, "there are many common points in many issues."
He was also quoted as saying that relations between the two countries "have never been as good as they are now."
Responding to a question from the interviewer, the foreign minister said he has met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi more than with any others, and that the two discuss issues "sincerely and explicitly."
Despite the reassurances, Turkey participated with Egypt ten days ago in a naval exercise dubbed "Sea of Friendship." Israeli officials speculated that the exercise may have been aimed not at Israel, but rather at long-time Turkish rival Iran.
Iran had threatened only days earlier to "target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit our next targets." The threat has been repeated regularly since the shield's installation several months ago.