ISTANBUL (AP) — The U.S. says it has begun consultations with Turkey as Ankara considers a deal for a missile defense system with a Chinese company sanctioned by Washington.
U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone told reporters in Ankara on Thursday the U.S. has concerns the deal could be problematic for Turkey's integration with NATO air and missile defenses.
"We are seriously concerned about what this means for allied missile and air defense — for us and for Turkey," he said.
The issue has become a source of tension between Turkey and NATO allies, since Turkey announced last month that it had chosen China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. to build an air defense system, surprising U.S. and European firms vying for the bid.
Ricciardone emphasized that Turkey had a right to make a deal, but said the U.S. wants "to make sure that the full facts are taken into due consideration."
He called the Chinese company a "long recognized proliferator." The company is sanctioned by the U.S. under its Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Turkish officials have said that the deal is not yet final.