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Native American tribes seek trade ties with Turkey

Native American tribal leaders seeking trade ties with Turkish companies have offered them tax incentives to operate in their territories in the United States, the organizer of the trip said Thursday.

Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America which organized the trip, said Thursday that the Native American tribes belong to sovereign nations that can strike their own trade deals and offer special tax incentives.

The delegation, representing 17 tribes from at least 10 U.S. states, has been welcomed by the Turkish government, which wants to bolster trade ties with the United States, which is Turkey's seventh largest trading partner.

Turkey has been seeking preferential trade treatment from Washington. Two-way trade stands at $11.8 billion.

Zafer Caglayan, the minister who oversees foreign trade, met the U.S. delegation in Istanbul earlier this week and discussed areas of possible cooperation in tourism and construction. Turkish constructors are active across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, building dams, stadiums and highways.

The delegation was scheduled to visit the Turkish Contractors Association in Ankara on Thursday.

"Ten years from now, I hope that we will be meeting as business partners, not just people pursuing business opportunities," Michael Finley, chairman of the Tribes of Colville Reservation in eastern Washington state, said after meeting the minister in Istanbul.

The delegation, including seven tribal leaders, chief executive officers of Native American companies as well as casino operators and Indian affairs experts, also visited some Turkish universities to discuss scholarships available to support Native Americans.

The Turkish Coalition of America offers its own scholarships to study in Turkey to up to 100 American minority students each year.