- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey’s recent decision to go with China over the U.S. to buy its first long-range anti-missile system has rankled the U.S., a NATO ally, but the decision was based on objective criteria, not politics, the Turkish foreign minister said Monday.

“For us, this is a process based purely on objective criteria. There is no political or ideological dimension,” said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said he discussed the issue with both Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Washington this week.

The decision was made because the U.S. refuses to jointly-produce the system, which is the top requirement for Turkey, he told a small group of reporters at the Turkish Embassy Monday afternoon. NATO is concerned that the new missile system will not be compatible with those of other members.

Mr. Davutoglu said the bid for the system started in 2009, and the U.S. had not raised concerns until now.

“Of course you always prefer to have defense systems from our allies, from NATO, and especially from the United States,” Mr. Davutoglu said. “[But] we expect joint production by our allies.”

“Obviously the Turks can purchase what they decide to purchase, but we believe that our systems … are very competitive,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman after the minister’s meeting with Mr. Hagel.

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