Turkey's Erdogan claims US will not impose sanctions over S-400 crisis

Turkey's Erdogan claims US will not impose sanctions over S-400 crisis
The US president expressed sympathy for his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, over the crisis, blaming former President Barack Obama for failing to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey.
3 min read
29 June, 2019
Trump and Erdogan have expressed concerns over harming the countries' strategic ties [Anadolu]

US President Donald Trump said he would not impose sanctions on Ankara of Turkey's purchase of Russian air defence systems, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Saturday.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States have risen over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems.

Washington has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step back from the purchase, warning that if Ankara goes forward, it will forfeit its place in the F-35 fighter jet program lest it compromise NATO's defence network.

Acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper made it clear on Wednesday that Turkey will face economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase.

Turkey has repeatedly dismissed those warnings, saying it would not turn back from the deal.

In a speech given hours after the two leaders held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan, Erdogan said the US president had told him there would be no sanctions imposed on Turkey over the deal.

The Turkish president also claimed Ankara expected the deliver of F-35 fighter jets from the United States, Reuters reported.

In talks earlier on Saturday, Erdogan had told Trump he had concerns that US actions may harm the strategic partnership between the two NATO allies, but that Ankara had made no changes in its plan to buy the Russian missile defense systems.

Trump reportedly expressed sympathy for Ankara's position, calling the situation "complicated".

The US president said the tensions over the S-400s were "not really Erdogan's fault", blaming former President Barack Obama for placing conditions on Turkey's purchase of US Patriot missiles.

Erdogan had insisted that the Patriot sale come with a transfer of technology, meaning that Turkey would be able to develop and produce its own missiles. 

"They wouldn't let him buy the missile he wanted to buy, which was the Patriot," he said. "You have to treat people fairly. And I don't think he was treated fairly."

Read more: US-Turkey tensions reach boiling point over Russia rocket saga

Sanctions would be devastating for Turkey's ailing economy.

Previous diplomatic crises with Washington have led to drastic dips in the value of the Turkish lira. A 30% decline in the currency prompted a recession last year, and the lira has fallen another 10 percent this year.

According to a statement by the Turkish presidency, Trump said he wanted the issue to be resolved without allowing already fragile ties between the two nations to deteriorate.

A readout provided by the White House after the talks said Trump had "encouraged Turkey to work with the United States on defence cooperation in a way that strengthens the NATO alliance".

Erdogan, speaking before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, said the deal showed improving ties between Turkey and Russia.

"Now, I believe eyes are on the delivery process of this issue, but there are no setbacks in our agreement," the president said, according to Reuters.

Turkey's priorities for the deal include joint production of the systems and a technology transfer, he added.

The S-400s are expected to be delivered to Turkey next month, but plans over where the systems would be stationed are still unsure.

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