NATO stages maneuver in Istanbul

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A NATO top commander said on Wednesday that NATO's Standing Maritime Group 2 is carrying out a maneuver in Turkey's Istanbul as part of its mission to defense against terrorism in the Mediterranean area.

Adm. Thorsten Kahler, top commander of the fleet, told a press briefing in Istanbul that German, French and Turkish frigates have docked in Istanbul's Sarayburnu as regular port visits.

"Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is a high security force of the alliance. We are carrying out a maneuver in Istanbul as part of our mission to defense against terrorism in the Mediterranean," the NATO commander was quoted by Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency.

Kahler said the fleet's Istanbul visit "had nothing to do" with the continuing violence in Syria and the latest incident between Turkey and its southern neighbor which saw the downing of a Turkish military plane by Syrian forces late last month.

Kahler said the fleet would stay in Istanbul for three days before setting sail for the Mediterranean again.

However, there is no detailed information about maneuver available. The fleet has a mission of staging maneuver, training and also conducting diplomatic tasks.

Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States are the routine contributors to the fleet, which is usually deployed in the Mediterranean.

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