Senior Pentagon official visits Turkey

Senior Pentagon official visits Turkey

Senior Pentagon official visits Turkey

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (L) and Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz (R). AA Photo

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Ankara today for talks on “a number of core issues,” including the Syrian crisis.

“Dr. Carter’s visit will also provide an opportunity to reaffirm America’s strong commitment to Turkey as an ally in confronting international terrorism in the wake of the Feb. 1 incident at the U.S. Embassy,” said a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

The visit comes just days after a deadly suicide blast at a security checkpoint on the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy compound in Ankara that killed the suicide bomber and a security guard. A Turkish woman was also seriously wounded in the attack.

Carter met with Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and other defense officials “to help advance mutual defense cooperation, including NATO-led efforts to address the potential missile threat resulting from the conflict in Syria,” according to the statement.

 As part of a NATO mission, the U.S. deployed, along with Germany and the Netherlands, two U.S.-made Patriot batteries in Turkey’s south in a bid to bolster the country’s air defense systems against ballistic missiles that might be fired from Syria.

Following his meeting with the defense minister, Carter traveled to Gaziantep province, where the U.S. Patriots are deployed.