U.S. concerned about Turkey's choice of Chinese missile system

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The United States said onSaturday it had expressed serious concerns to Turkey over itsdecision to co-produce a long-range air and missile defensesystem with a Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions.

Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, announcedthis week that it had chosen the FD-2000 missile defense systemfrom China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, orCPMIEC, over rival systems from Russian, U.S. and Europeanfirms.

CPMIEC is under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran,North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

"We have conveyed our serious concerns about the Turkishgovernment's contract discussions with a U.S.-sanctioned companyfor a missile defense system that will not be inter-operablewith NATO systems or collective defense capabilities," a StateDepartment spokeswoman said.

"Our discussions on this issue will continue."

Some Western defense analysts have said they were surprisedby Turkey's decision, having expected the contract to go toRaytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriotmissile, or the Franco/Italian Eurosam SAMP/T.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent twoPatriot batteries and up to 400 soldiers to operate them tosoutheastern Turkey early this year after Ankara asked NATO forhelp with air defenses against possible missile attack fromSyria.

Turkey has long been the United States' closest ally in theMiddle Eastern region, bordering on the Soviet Union during theCold War. The U.S. military exercised great influence over aTurkish military that had a strong hand in Turkey's politics.

Under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, elected in 2002, therole of the Turkish military in politics has been curbed.Political and military relations between Ankara and Washington,while still close, play a less central role and that could bereflected in procurement policy.

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