US 'seriously concerned' about Turkey's Chinese missile choice
By Fulya Ozerkan, AFPANKARA -- The United States is “seriously concerned” about NATO ally Turkey's controversial decision to select a Chinese company for its long-range air and missile defense system, the U.S. ambassador said on Thursday.
October 25, 2013, 12:27 am TWN
“We are very concerned about a prospective deal between Turkey and Chinese firm that is sanctioned (by the United States),” ambassador Francis Ricciardone told reporters.
“Yes, this is a commercial decision ... It's Turkey's sovereign right to make its own decisions about defense acquisitions or anything else,” he said.
“There is no challenge, there's no disagreement between us but we are seriously concerned about what this means for allied missile air defense.”
Ankara's announcement last month that it was launching discussions with the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation (CPMIEC) for the deal — worth US$4 billion (2.9 billion euros), according to media reports — irritated Turkey's allies in NATO, particularly the United States.
Ricciardone said Washington began expert-level discussions with Turkey in order to make sure the full facts about the Chinese company are taken into consideration.
“We are concerned but Turkey will make its own decision in line with the ... examination of the facts,” Ricciardone said
“We are now dealing with a strategic mutual defense question,” rather than a merely commercial question.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday defended his government's decision to enter talks with China but said no deal had yet been finalized.
“For the moment, China is offering the best conditions” including meeting Ankara's demand to co-produce the missiles, he said, but gave no date for a decision.