Turkey's Erdogan, Tesla's Musk discuss cooperation with Turkish firms

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk met on Wednesday to discuss cooperation between Tesla, SpaceX and Turkish firms, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said.

Musk, who is in Turkey to attend the Global SatShow in Istanbul, met Erdogan and Turkey’s transportation and industry ministers at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Musk and Erdogan discussed potential joint operations between Tesla Inc TSLA.O, Musk's SpaceX company and Turkish firms, as well as the launch of Turkey's Turksat 5A and 5B satellites.

“We also exchanged views on what sort of joint operations Turkish firms could have with the SpaceX and Tesla companies,” Kalin was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey aims to launch the Turksat 5A satellite in 2020 and the 5B in 2021. In October, Airbus AIR.PA submitted the best bid in a tender to build the Turkish satellites.

Kalin said an agreement would be signed with Airbus on Thursday, and Musk would also be present at the meeting as a subcontractor.

Musk’s SpaceX plans its first trip to Mars in 2022, carrying only cargo, to be followed by a manned mission in 2024.

Kalin also said Erdogan and Musk had discussed electric cars, days after Turkey unveiled plans to launch a car made entirely in Turkey by 2021, which the president cast as a long-harbored dream of the Turkish people.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans