The US-made Patriot missile system is one of the options still in the running for the Turkish contract

Turkey still open to missile system bids

Turkey has said it is still open to bids to build a missile defence system, despite agreeing a deal with a Chinese supplier in September.

Last year’s tender saw the Nato member choose a $3.4bn (£2.1bn) offer from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation ahead of Russian, American and European bidders largely due to the guarantee of joint production.

But Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu  said yesterday that Ankara had not yet reached a final decision on which missile defence system it would buy and it was still open to bids from other companies.

"Turkey did not decide yet which system should be bought…for us three criteria are important – joint production, the time of delivery and price," he told a panel at the Munich Security Conference. "The Chinese company was the first because they offered us joint production. Joint production was important for us."

The deal would mark a breakthrough for China in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons but has also soured Turkey’s relations with its Western allies as the Chinese company is under US sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

US and Nato officials also voiced concerns that a Chinese product would not be compatible with other Nato systems, but Davutoglu said Turkey was still negotiating and he had held a meeting with a US company a day earlier.

Rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and US-listed Raytheon, the maker of Patriot missiles, were also in the running he said.

"If the other two companies give us the assurance of joint production in Turkey and the transfer of technology, of course we wish to have this with Nato allies,” Davutoglu added.

"Everyone knows how difficult it is if you want to buy something from the United States, there is a long process of getting permission. If those companies are offering us joint production it is negotiable."

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