NEWS

Turkey denies claim it blocked launch of NATO’s Aegean mission

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Ankara has denied a report saying it stopped over the weekend the launch of a NATO mission aimed at cracking down on criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe.

In comments made to Hurriyet Daily News Wednesday, Turkish officials speaking on condition of anonymity rebuffed the allegation as “fabricated and most probably aimed at creating provocation.”

“Work is going on to have NATO activity conducted as planned,” the same official was quoted as saying.

Speaking to the AFP on Tuesday, a diplomatic source said that despite requests by the NATO operation's German command, “the Turks refused” to allow the vessels to enter into Turkish waters.

A second diplomat confirmed the claim, the AFP said.

Plans for NATO patrols were first laid out in a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara in February.