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.