Turkey warns US to avoid steps that harm ties over S-400 missile defense system
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Turkey warns US to avoid steps that harm ties over S-400 missile defense system

Statement comes after Washington threatened to remove Ankara from F-35 fighter jet program and have pilots kicked off training course and expelled from US over purchase from Russia

Illustrative: Image of Russian S-400 long-range air defense missile systems deployed at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, December 16, 2015. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Illustrative: Image of Russian S-400 long-range air defense missile systems deployed at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, December 16, 2015. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Wednesday warned the United States against taking the “wrong steps” after the US State Department said there would be consequences if Ankara bought Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.

“We are inviting the US to avoid taking the wrong steps which would exclude diplomacy and dialogue and harm relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It comes after the US renewed its warning to Ankara that there would be “real and negative” consequences if it completes the purchase of the S-400.

“Those consequences include participation in the F-35 program,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters on Tuesday.

She said that Turkish officials were fully aware of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a law passed by Congress in 2017 that mandates sanctions for any “significant” purchases of weapons from Russia.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and US President Donald Trump at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said after meeting US counterpart Donald Trump last month that he was confident Turkey would not face sanctions for buying the S-400.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the State Department warning did “not match the content and the spirit” of the Trump-Erdogan meeting on the margins of the G-20 summit in Japan.

“The conditions that prompt Turkey to acquire S-400 are apparent,” it added.

Trump, after meeting Erdogan, appeared convinced by the Turkish leader’s assertion that former president Barack Obama did not allow Ankara to buy Patriot missiles.

“You can’t do business that way. It’s not good,” Trump said.

Washington has threatened to remove Ankara from its F-35 fighter jet program, giving Ankara until July 31 to cancel the S-400 purchase or have its pilots kicked off the training course and expelled from the US.

Turkey has proposed forming a working group with the US to address the issue. “But we have not yet received a response to our proposal,” the ministry said.

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