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Iran criticizes Turkey request for missile defense

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 9:14 p.m.

BEIRUT — Iran lashed out on Friday at Turkey for requesting that NATO supply it with Patriot surface-to-air missiles to deploy along the border with Syria, denouncing the step as counterproductive.

Iran Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani made the remarks after a visit to Syria in a show of support by Iran to its diplomatically isolated ally.

“The internal crisis in Syria cannot be solved through the deployment of such weapons,” Larijani, who is close to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, said at a news conference in Lebanon, where he went after leaving Syria.

Turkey's request earlier this week follows several incidents in which violence has spilled across the border from the civil war in Syria. Frequent mortar rounds have fallen a short distance inside. The Patriot missiles would be useful in intercepting ballistic missiles — a much more serious but still hypothetical threat.

NATO said Wednesday that it will consider the request “without delay.”

Syria's Foreign Ministry also criticized Turkey's request, calling it “a new provocative step.”

Larijani, who met Friday with Syria's President Bashar Assad in Damascus, said Iran is seeking a peaceful solution to the war in Syria.

“The difference between us and the others when it comes to Syria is that the others want to impose democracy through weapons,” he said. “Iran cannot accept or support such a way.”

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