TEHRAN- "We believe that any kind of presence around our borders by countries from outside the region will not improve security in the region but will actually do the opposite," the official IRNA news agency quoted deputy foreign minister for consular affairs Hassan Ghashghavi as saying.

"Iran and Turkey are two friendly neighbouring nations… and have the ability to fully preserve their own security without any foreign intervention," he added.

The Turkish foreign ministry announced on Friday that technical negotiations on the deployment of the radar had "reached a final stage," in a move swiftly welcomed by Washington.

"The hope is to have it deployed by the end of this year," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.

Leaders of the 28-member NATO alliance gave their backing last year for the Europe-wide ballistic missile shield, which US officials say is aimed at thwarting missile threats from Iran.

Iranian criticism of Turkey is rare. Tehran has made good relations with Ankara a priority as it has boosted trade ties in the face of EU and US embargos and looked to its NATO neighbour to mediate in its standoff with the West over its controversial nuclear programme.

5 September 2011

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