US cable: Turkey wanted Turkish astronaut for Boeing deal

Turkey sought to send an astronaut into space and requested NASA assistance in shoring up its nascent space program while discussing a commercial plane deal with US manufacturer Boeing, US cable said.

US cable: Turkey wanted Turkish astronaut for Boeing deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey sought to send an astronaut into space and requested NASA assistance in shoring up its nascent space program while discussing a commercial plane deal with US manufacturer Boeing, according to a US diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks.

The document, a confidential cable from the US Embassy in Ankara that is dated January 2010, shows how US officials attempted to persuade Turkish authorities to buy Boeing planes for Turkish Airlines (THY) in a $3.4-billion deal. In a Jan. 14 meeting, then US Ambassador James Jeffrey met with Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım to “advocate on behalf of Boeing in the ongoing procurement of new airplanes for the THY fleet.”

Yıldırım said in the meeting that that the price was the main sticking point in the prospective purchase, but added that it was not the only consideration, requesting long-term partnership (in vague conditions, according to Jeffrey) and heightened level of civil aviation cooperation with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“In addition to FAA assistance, Yıldırım hinted obliquely that Turkey's desire to send an astronaut into space -- expressed in a letter from President [Abdullah] Gül to President [Barack] Obama -- is also tied into its consideration of commercial deals, and that NASA assistance to help stand up Turkey's nascent space program would be viewed positively,” the document, published by New York Times on Sunday, reads.

“Ambassador Jeffrey noted that scheduling a Turkish astronaut on an upcoming mission would be extremely difficult, but that other technical assistance from NASA in establishing Turkey's space program might be a possibility.”

Last Mod: 04 Ocak 2011, 11:22
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