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Iran Press TV

Britain, Turkey sign £100 million warplane deal

Iran Press TV

Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:13AM

British Prime Minister Theresa May has signed a £100 million warplane deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in hopes that the UK will emerge as Turkey's principal military partner.

The jet fighter agreement, signed on Saturday, will see the UK's largest military contractor BAE Systems collaborate with Turkish companies to build a custom-made Turkish warplane, the TF-X, British daily The Guardian reported, underlining that the UK hopes the deal would spark "a longstanding relationship, and open the door to becoming Turkey's main defense provider."

"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," said May, who had earlier laid a wreath at the mausoleum of former Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk.

"This agreement underlines once again that Britain is a great, global trading nation and that we are open for business," added the British prime minister, who aims to demonstrate that the UK can strike lucrative trade deals as it prepares to exit the European Union.

"We would expect this to unlock further deals," said a Downing Street spokeswoman as quoted in the report, which noted that besides the warplane deal, May and Erdogan further discussed security cooperation and counter-terrorism, and agreed to form "a joint working group" to begin talks about a bilateral trade deal that could be signed after Brexit.

The development came immediately following May's official visit to Washington, where she held talks with US President Donald Trump.

According to the report, May signed the military deal with Turkey despite growing concerns regarding Erdogan's human rights record "and the increasingly authoritarian tone of his government, which has locked up thousands of political dissidents and protesters."

The spokeswoman insisted that the issues of human rights and trade were distinct saying, "I think those are separate issues; Turkey is an important NATO partner, so our cooperation on both security and defense is in line with that."

"The prime minister's approach is quite clear; she thinks it is important and in the UK's interests to engage with Turkey," she further stated.

Asked about the massive crackdown following the attempted coup against Erdogan's leadership last year, May's spokeswoman said, "We have expressed strong support for Turkey's democracy and institutions following the coup, but have also been very clear that we urge Turkey's response to be proportionate and in line with international human rights obligations."

Speaking beside Erdogan in his lavish presidential office, May said, "I'm proud that the UK stood with you on July 15 last year in defense of democracy and now it is important that Turkey sustains that democracy by maintaining the rule of law and upholding its international human rights obligations as the government has undertaken to do."

May's remarks on human rights comes despite her total expression of support for Persian Gulf dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as Britain presses ahead with more weapon sales to both regimes, which are notorious for their grave human rights records in their cruel repression of domestic dissent.

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