BRUSSELS: Turkey is seeking an end to Nato’s counter-migration mission in the Aegean Sea and it is telling the US-led alliance that the sharp drop in refugees trying to get to Greece means there is no longer a need for warships to patrol its coast.

Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik told other Nato defence ministers on Wednesday there was no need for the mission to continue beyond the end of December, according to two people briefed on the exchanges, despite strong support across the alliance for the mission.

“This was a temporary mission, and the goal has been reached in this temporary mission. There is no need to extend it further,” Isik told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

“Whether this Nato force is here or not, we will continue our battle against this migrant movement,” he said.

The uncompromising stance came as Nato prepares to help a separate EU migrant maritime mission off Libya’s coast, to which Turkey will send ships and planes to carry out air and sea patrols of traffickers sending refugees towards Italy.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2016

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