By Elise Labott
Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Israel and Turkey this weekend to try to jumpstart the long-stalled Mideast peace process and build on the two nations' efforts to repair ties, U.S. and Turkish officials said Wednesday.
Kerry moved up his Monday departure for London and then South Korea, China and Japan in order to capitalize on the reconciliation President Barack Obama brokered between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the region last month, according to the officials, who spoke on anonymity because the trip had not been announced. He will also discuss the crisis in Syria.
Obama scored a diplomatic success during his visit to Israel last month when he persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla.
The apology, long sought by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eased strained feelings between the two vital U.S. allies in the Middle East.
By Jill Dougherty, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry
In Ankara, Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came face to face with a tragedy that scarred his first day in office: the death of a security guard at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city.
Mustafa Akarsu died in a suicide bombing at the gates to the embassy he had guarded for 20 years. On Friday, his wife, two children and their uncle sat in the sunshine on the lawn of the embassy as Kerry expressed condolences on behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people.
"That was my first day as secretary of state," he said. "When I raised my hand to take the oath of office, this tragedy was immediately on my mind and in my heart, and I have carried the memory of that courage in every embassy I have walked into since, and I will in the days ahead."
Kerry presented to the family the American flag that flew over the embassy the day Akarsu died.
When the terrorist came to the gate, he said, "Mustafa didn't hesitate for a moment. He and his fellow guards acted heroically, saving lives, with quickness and with bravery."
Recalling other guards who have been killed at other embassies, Kerry said it is a "dangerous world," but embassy staff members do "indispensable work." FULL POST
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
The suicide bombing in Ankara Friday is a reminder to counterterrorism agencies that it's not just jihadist groups who threaten Western governments and their interests overseas. Pockets of the extreme left and extreme right still consider political violence legitimate - among them the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party in Turkey.
Turkish authorities have blamed the U.S. Embassy attack on the group, better known as DHKP-C, and are in the process of identifying the bomber.
Analysts say it is likely the attack had two aims - to embarrass the Turkish government and to demonstrate the group's hostility to the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries on Turkish soil. Several members of the group are thought to be close to the Syrian regime.FULL STORY
CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey and the response by the State Department.
By Melissa Gray and Greg Botelho
The first of six Patriot missile batteries intended to protect Turkey from Syrian threats is operational along the countries' shared border, NATO said Saturday.
The other five batteries, which NATO says are to be for defensive purposes only, are expected to be in place in coming days.
NATO foreign ministers decided in December to deploy the batteries after Syria launched Scud missiles near the Turkish border. In October, errant Syrian artillery shells hit the Turkish border town of Akcakale.FULL STORY
By Ben Brumfield
U.S. troops arrived in Turkey on Friday to man Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border, according to Turkish state media.
Syria has previously launched Scud missiles at cities near the Turkish border in a desperate bid to extend its firepower.
In response, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands deployed Patriot air defense missiles to the border region to intercept any Syrian ballistic missiles.
The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO, but the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces.
A group of 27 U.S. troops landed in Gaziantep, Turkey, where they will survey the Patriot deployment, according to Turkish state news agency, Anadolu.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
U.S. troops will be in direct position for the first time to take action against the government of Syrian President Bashr al-Assad with the deployment of 400 American forces and two Patriot missile batteries in Turkey, possibly as soon as mid-January.
The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO. But the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces with the ability to choose whether to override computer systems that automatically order firing against any incoming Scud missiles, according to U.S. military officials.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that he had signed orders for the Patriot missiles, emphasizing that he was sending a clear message to Syria that NATO will defend Turkey.
Syrian rocket and artillery fire have landed in Turkey and Syria has launched short range Scuds close to the Turkish border.
The United States is to deploy 400 troops and two Patriot air-defense missile batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks to defend against potential threats from Syria, defense officials said Friday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order en route to Turkey, where he is visiting Incirlik Air Base, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Little declined to give details of where the two batteries would be located, or to specify how long the deployment would last.
"The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," he said.
Turkey and NATO insist the Patriot missile deployment would be used only for defense.
CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.
By Jill Dougherty reporting from Brussels
A European diplomat tells CNN says NATO will decide Tuesday to approve Patriot missiles for Turkey. Turkey has asked for the air defense system as protection from Syria.
"It is a political decision," the diplomat tells CNN, "a sign of solidarity for Turkey."
A Russian official, speaking with CNN on background, claims the Patriot systems are more symbolic than militarily necessary. Echoing comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin that Syria, embroiled in a brutal civil war, has no interest in attacking Turkey.
Editor's note: CNN's Jill Dougherty is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Europe. Dougherty filed this report from Prague.
By Jill Dougherty
A senior administration official traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Europe ruled out any discussion at the upcoming NATO conference of the potential use of U.S. Patriot missiles in Turkey to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
"A no-fly zone is not on the agenda for any NATO talks this week," the official told reporters aboard Clinton's plane.
"Patriot missiles, if they're deployed, would be deployed to protect Turkish airspace," the official said. "Turkey is a NATO ally and if a plane or missile crossed into Turkish airspace, these assets would be there to defend territory and airspace."
"We have said we're always prepared to look at ways in which we can help the people of Syria," the official added. "NATO has not decided to implement the no-fly zone but that's a separate discussion."