United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel avoided criticizing Turkey over its decision to favor a Chinese firm to co-produce a missile defense system, showing a different stance from Washington and NATO, which had expressed concern about Ankara's choice, newspaper Today's Zaman reported.
Hagel, who attended a dinner at the Turkish Embassy in Washington on Thursday, told Today's Zaman that the US values Turkey very much as a friend, as a partner and an ally, and especially as a NATO ally.
Noting that the US will continue to work with Turkey on mutual security interests, Hagel said, "Each nation has its own decision making process," regarding Turkey's decision to favor China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation's (CPMIEC) FD-2000 missile defense system over more expensive rival systems from Russian, US and European firms.
When Hagel was asked if he was concerned over Turkey's choice, he said, "We are working with our allies and we are working with the government of Turkey on all the issues," without elaborating further.
The Turkish Defense Industry Implementation Committee (SSİK) announced in September that the contract to co-produce a long-range air and missile defense system worth $4 billion would be awarded to the CPMIEC in a statement.
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