Barak hoping for Turkish satellite sale

Defense minister, Turkish president expected to discuss Iranian nuclear threat during talks in Ankara.

Barak pshh 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Barak pshh 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to head to Ankara on Tuesday for talks with government officials there about a wide range of topics, including the sale of advanced military platforms such as the Arrow ballistic missile defense system and the Ofek spy satellite. Barak will be the official guest of Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and will meet during his two-day visit with President Abdullah Gul, as well as with Turkish Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit. Turkey is one of Israel's defense industries' leading clients, and Barak's talks in Ankara will focus on promoting those relations. A senior Israeli defense delegation recently met with their counterparts in Ankara for talks regarding the possible sale of the Arrow and Ofek - two of Israel's most advanced military technologies. Turkey is currently in the process of receiving just over 10 Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries, a deal worth $200 million. Israeli defense officials said that Turkey was interested in acquiring a missile defense system in the face of Iran's continued race toward nuclear power. The sale of an Ofek satellite - launched just this past June in Israel - would dramatically increase Turkish intelligence-gathering capabilities, since Turkey does not have its own spy satellites. In addition to talks about military sales, Barak will discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with Gul, who has in the past also offered to serve as a mediator for peace talks between Israel and Syria. The talks are also expected to focus on Iran's continued race toward nuclear power, a sensitive issue for both countries which disagree as to its severity. Differences over the gravity of Iran's nuclear program were at the heart of talks President Shimon Peres held with Gul in November. At the time, Peres told Gul that Israel could not accept a nuclear Iran. In response, the Turkish president said that while Turkey was against the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it did believe that countries had the right to develop alternative sources of energy.