British PM reaches $125m jet deal in Turkey

2017-01-28 23:05
Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim walks alongside British Prime Minister Theresa in Ankara. (AP)

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim walks alongside British Prime Minister Theresa in Ankara. (AP)

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Ankara - Turkey and Britain signed a deal to jointly build fighter jets during Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to Ankara on Saturday, even as the British leader called on Turkey's government to uphold democracy and abide by human rights standards.

Britain's BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace industries signed the £100m agreement establishing a partnership for the development of Turkey's fighter jet program after May met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials about boosting trade between the countries once Britain leaves the European Union.

The two countries agreed to start preparatory work for a future free trade agreement and also talked about increasing co-operation in security and counter-terrorism.

"This agreement underlines once again that Britain is a great, global, trading nation and that we are open for business," May said of the fighter jet deal, according to a statement.

"It marks the start of a new and deeper trading relationship with Turkey and will potentially secure British and Turkish jobs and prosperity for decades to come."

May flew overnight to Ankara by RAF Voyager jet from the US where she and US President Donald Trump on Friday proclaimed a new chapter in the trans-Atlantic "special relationship."

Dismissed from government jobs

The visit to Turkey, an important but complicated Nato ally, came amid pressure at home to condemn Turkey's clampdown on civil liberties since the government crushed a coup attempt in July.

Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people suspected of links to a movement led by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of orchestrating the failed coup attempt. More than 100 000 others have been dismissed from government jobs.

The crackdown extended to other government opponents. More than a hundred journalists and pro-Kurdish party leaders are in jail.

During a joint news conference with May, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim strongly criticized Trump's move to suspend the admission of refugees, saying "you cannot settle this issue by building walls."

"Nobody leaves their homes for nothing," said Yildirim, whose country has admitted some 3 million refugees. "They came here to save their lives and our doors were open. And if the same thing happened again, we would do it again."

Yildirim also complained of insufficient backing for Turkish efforts to support the refugees, saying the expression of "appreciation" to Turkey was "not enough."

May said of Trump's announcement on refugees: "The United States is responsible for the United States' policy on refugees."


Read more on:    bae systems  |  recep tayyip erdogan  |  theresa may  |  fethullah gulen  |  uk  |  turkey

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