Top US intelligence official in surprise visit to Turkey

19 September 2011 Monday

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper arrived in Ankara for a surprise visit, a news report said on Monday.

James Clapper

James Clapper

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper arrived in Ankara for a surprise visit, a news report said on Monday.

Clapper arrived in Ankara on Sunday evening and began talks with Turkish officials on Monday morning, private NTV television reported. There was no official statement on Clapper’s visit from Turkish or US authorities.

Clapper was having talks at the General Staff, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the Foreign Ministry, according to NTV.

His talks focus on the planned deployment of a US radar system as part of a NATO-backed missile defense system in the eastern Turkish province of Malatya and the fight against the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as the developments in the Middle East.

Turkey announced earlier this month that it had agreed to the deployment of the X-Band radar as part of NATO’s missile defense system, designed to protect the European allies of NATO from “missile threats that could stem from Russia or Iran”. Turkey had insisted during the course of negotiations over hosting the US radar that no country should be mentioned as a threat, a demand accepted by the US and other allies.

On Sunday, Turkish officials denied earlier reports that Clapper was to visit Turkey soon.

The US has been sharing intelligence with Turkey about the PKK’s movements in a joint effort to combat the militant group. Turkish and American officials have recently discussed the possibility of Predator drones being stationed at bases in Turkey.

Given the fact that US withdrawal from Iraq is only weeks away, the American military may soon send its unmanned aerial vehicles home. Turkey, which has found half of its own unmanned aerial vehicles impounded by its formerly close ally Israel, has suggested instead that they be stationed in Turkey for intelligence gathering against the PKK.

 

Cihan