Turkey sees "importance" of NATO role to deal with ISIL
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey attaches great importance to NATO's role in dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, regional threat, Anadolu Agency reported referring to an official source.
Davutoglu made the remarks when he met NATO's newly-appointed Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in the capital Thursday, according to a ministry source.
During the meeting, the Turkish premier Davutoglu said that any issue NATO dealt with was of particular concern to Turkey and other neighboring countries.
Stoltenberg said NATO always stood ready to defend Turkey. He said NATO realized the importance of having a strong ally like Turkey in the critical region, the source added.
The NATO chief also acknowledged that Turkey had been most affected by the turmoil in the region, especially the incidents in Iraq.
Earlier Thursday, Stoltenberg also met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is also expected to meet Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel.
The new NATO chief is also scheduled to visit the U.S. Patriot missile units deployed in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep.
As part of his first group of visits to the allied capitals, Stoltenberg's two-day visit in Turkey came at a critical time when the key Syrian border town of Kobani seems to be on the brink of falling to the militant group, the ISIL.
In 2012, NATO members, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot missile batteries to bolster Turkish air defenses against potential attacks from Syria in response to a request from Ankara for NATO assistance.