Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heading to China, Turkey's Erdogan eyes improved missile defence bid

REUTERS - Tue Jul 28, 2015 

* Turkey chose Chinese firm as preferred candidate
* NATO allies concerned over compatibility
* Diplomatic row over Uighurs hangs over Erdogan visit (Adds quotes, details on bid process)

By Tulay Karadeniz

ANKARA, July 28 (Reuters) - Turkey is open to an improved offer from preferred bidder China in a long-range missile defence system tender, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday ahead of a visit to Beijing, reviving a deal that has raised security concerns among NATO allies.
Erdogan's state visit to China is expected to focus on Turkish trade links with the world's second-biggest economy. But a recent diplomatic spat over the treatment of China's Muslim minority Uighurs will also loom over talks.
NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp in 2013 as the preferred candidate for the $3.4 billion deal, stirring U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.
The agreement with China then languished, and Turkey re-opened negotiations with U.S. and European firms over its first-long-range missile defence system. Ankara said China had not met all requirements of the $3.4 billion deal.
"The most suitable bid came from China but certain developments led to delays. We will revisit these matters during this trip. If we receive a proposal that enriches the bid, we will view this positively," Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara before departing for China.
Ankara has given mixed messages on whether it will integrate the system with NATO infrastructure or not.
U.S. and European allies want Turkey to use a system that is compatible with NATO's air defence and because they are worried about inherent security risks from Chinese technology.