Chinese deputy foreign minister in Ankara for inter-delegation meeting

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui is paying a visit to Ankara for an inter-delegation meeting between the Turkish and Chinese foreign ministries in Ankara on April 16-17.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that as part of the Joint Working Group formed in 2009 between the Turkish and Chinese foreign ministries, the third Joint Working Group meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Zhang and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun SinirlioIlu in Ankara.

According to the Foreign Ministry statement, after an exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues on Wednesday, a general evaluation meeting is planned to be held on Thursday between the Turkish and Chinese delegations that SinirlioIlu and Zhang will head.

During his visit to Turkey, the Chinese deputy foreign minister will also meet with Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan on Thursday and pay a visit to Izmir on Friday, the statement noted.

Although no details were given of the content of the meetings between the foreign ministries in the statement, the Turkish acquisition of Chinese long-range air and missile defense system has remained one of the most important issues between the countries since last September. The talks between Turkey and China on the missile tender are expected to be concluded by the end of April.

Turkey announced on Sept. 26 that it had chosen the FD-2000 missile-defense system from the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) over rival systems from Russian, US and European firms. NATO member Turkey’s selection of the Chinese missile system for its defense program, code-named T-Loramids, upset the US and NATO. Turkey later announced that Ankara had not yet decided which missile defense system it would buy and was open to bids from other companies besides the current Chinese favorite if these guaranteed joint production.

Murad Bayar, former head of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) who was removed from office in late March, is allegedly the person who made the Turkish government opt for the Chinese firm. Bayar reportedly arranged the T-Loramids tender in such a way as to make China, with its offer of a high technology transfer, the top contender to push the US companies to come up with a similar offer.

As a new SSM undersecretary, Ismail Demir, the former technical service general manager of THY and an aircraft engineer, was appointed on April 11 to replace Bayar, it remains to be seen how the new head will handle the China missile talks.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)