ANKARA (AFP) - Turkey plans to deploy an early warning radar by the end of the year as part of Nato's missile defence system for Europe, officials said Friday. Leaders of the 28-member Nato alliance endorsed plans in Lisbon last year to launch a Europe-wide ballistic missile shield, which US officials say is aimed at thwarting missile threats from Iran. Technical negotiations about the deployment of the defence system in Turkey "have reached a final stage," Selcuk Unal, spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry, said in a written statement Thursday. "It is foreseen that the early warning radar system dedicated by the US to Nato will be deployed in our country," Unal said. "Turkey's hosting of this element will contribute to the... defence system, which is developed under Nato's new strategic concept (and) strengthen Nato's defence capacity and Turkey's national defence system," he added. In Washington, the Pentagon on Friday welcomed Turkey's decision as a step forward for the missile defence project, which initially will rely on naval ships equipped with interceptors designed to knock out incoming missiles. "The hope is to have it deployed by the end of this year," spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters. "This component will link in to the ballistic missile defence capable AEGIS ships that we operate in the Mediterrean," Lapan said. Turkey, concerned over its delicate position with neighbouring Iran, persuaded Nato allies to leave out any mention of Iran when the missile defence plan was approved at an alliance summit in November. Meanwhile, Russia on Friday demanded new Western security pledges after its neighbour Turkey said it envisaged hosting an early warning radar as part of Nato's missile defence system for Europe.