US-Turkey dialogue continues despite spat over F-35, S-400
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US-Turkey dialogue continues despite spat over F-35, S-400

NATO’s European commander says top officials from both countries may discuss issue at alliance meeting next week

An F-35 fighter plane flies over the White House on June 12, 2019, in Washington DC (Eric Baradat/AFP)
An F-35 fighter plane flies over the White House on June 12, 2019, in Washington DC (Eric Baradat/AFP)

The US and Turkey remain in contact over Ankara’s plans to buy a Russian air defense system, which Washington has threatened to retaliate for by canceling Turkey’s order for F-35 stealth jets, NATO’s European commander, US General Tod Wolters, said.

Wolters, at the Paris Airshow, told Reuters in a report published Tuesday that US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, may discuss the issue during NATO meetings in Brussels next week.

“We won’t co-locate those two assets, the S-400 and the F-35,” Wolters said “I know there’ll be follow on dialogue to work on. As a matter of fact there may the opportunity to meet next week at the ministerials in NATO.”

Wolters said that despite Washington’s threat to stop the F-35 deal, the military relationship between the US and NATO remains “absolutely, positively solid.”

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)

The deal for advanced S-400 air defense systems from Russia has soured relations between NATO allies US and Turkey.

The United States says the S-400s are a threat to its F-35 fighter jet program and has told Turkey it would be excluded from that program. It has also warned Turkey of possible sanctions if it takes delivery of the Russian system.

Last week Turkey’s foreign minister said his country will respond to any possible US sanctions over its deal with Russia for the purchase of the S-400s.

Defending Ankara’s purchase, Mevlut Cavusoglu told state-run Anadolu Agency on Friday that Turkey can choose its defense equipment as “an independent and free” country.

Cavusoglu said Turkey “has counter-steps to take” should the US impose sanctions.

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