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

A man walks past the logo of China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) at its headquarters in Beijing September 27, 2013. RE
A man walks past the logo of China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) at its headquarters in Beijing September 27, 2013. RE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Saturday it had expressed serious concerns to Turkey over its decision to co-produce a long-range air and missile defense system with a Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions.

Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, announced this week that it had chosen the FD-2000 missile defense system from China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, or CPMIEC, over rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms.

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 Turkish government's contract discussions with a U.S.-sanctioned company for a missile defense system that will not be inter-operable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities," a State Department spokeswoman said.

"Our discussions on this issue will continue."

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

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries and up to 400 soldiers to operate them to southeastern Turkey early this year after Ankara asked NATO for help with air defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.

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

Under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, elected in 2002, the role 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 be reflected in procurement policy.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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