Despite denial from Ankara, a U.S. defense lobbyist said Turkey and the United States are engaged in negotiations over the possible deployment of a missile-defense shield in Turkey, local Daily News reported Wednesday.
The report quoted Riki Ellison, chairman of the U.S.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, as saying "Negotiations are happening already and they will continue to go forward."
He said the report last week of a Polish newspaper is "valid".
The stir began last week when the Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported U.S. President Barack Obama has "all but abandoned" plans to locate parts of a controversial U.S. missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The newspaper said the Pentagon has been asked to explore switching planned interceptor-rocket launch sites from the two central European states to Israel, Turkey or the Balkans.
The New York Times also reported Saturday that the Obama administration mulls over alternative plans for the missile defense shield, which may drop either the Polish or Czech site, or both sites, and instead building launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu immediately responded to the claims, saying the government has not received any request from the United States or NATO regarding the missile-defense project.
However, Ellison said he hopes to see a working missile-defense shield in operation by 2013 and he believes there will be a concerted U.S. effort to work with the Turkish government to install missile shields at four bases in Turkey.
According to Daily News, Turkey should be very careful with the U.S. missile plan as it has to consider the impact on its relations with Russia and the neighboring countries.