Ankara: Turkey is still negotiating with Japanese and Chinese firms for a USD 22 billion tender to build a nuclear power plant and the process is not yet concluded, the country's energy minister said on Thursday.

"We are currently holding talks with China and Japan," Taner Yildiz said in a televised interview, following a news report that Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in cooperation with France's Areva were expected to win the tender.

Turkey's energy and natural resources ministry held talks with Japanese Government and company officials in Ankara on Wednesday and told them of its readiness to place the order from the two firms, Japan's Nikkei business daily said.

"I can say Japan's claims are premature and the race is still continuing," Yildiz said. "We're not at that stage yet." He said however that intensive talks were being held with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

A Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman had declined to confirm the Nikkei report. The newspaper said that under the expected order, Mitsubishi and Areva will build four pressurized water reactors with a combined output of 4.5 million kilowatts in Sinop on the Black Sea.

Construction of the country's second nuclear power plant is to begin in 2017, with the first reactor coming on line by 2023, it said. Canadian and South Korean companies were originally also in the tender process, but Yildiz said they were no longer in the running.

The Nikkei report sent Areva shares up more than 3 percent in early trading on the Paris stock exchange.


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