US 'offers Turkey free trade agreement in return for deactivating S-400'

US 'offers Turkey free trade agreement in return for deactivating S-400'
Senator Lindsey Graham called Turkey's foreign minister on Wednesday at President Trump's behest amid ongoing tensions over Ankara's decision to buy a Russian missile system, the senator said on Thursday.
2 min read
25 July, 2019
Lindsey Graham negotiated a 'win-win' deal for Turkey and the US [Getty]
US President Donald Trump sent senator Lindsey Graham to deliver a "win-win" deal for Turkey and the US, in an attempt to reverse Ankara's move to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defence system, US media reported on Thursday.

Trump's message promising free trade agreements was delivered to Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in return for reversing course on Turkey's purchase.

"The S-400, that problem can be solved, and the relationship can flourish," Graham said he told the foreign minister. "This can be a win-win. If the S-400 is activated, then the relationship takes a very dark turn."

"My pitch to Turkey was: Let's stand down on the S-400, let's start free trade agreement negotiations, which would change the Turkish economy, would help the American economy, will give us a much closer economic relationship," Graham said, according to US media reports.

"The S-400 is a $4 billion purchase. They've had to be removed from the F-35 program, that's a $10 billion loss. If there was a free trade agreement negotiation that resulted in a product it would fundamentally change Turkey's economy. What I'm asking for is cooler heads to prevail."

Turkey began receiving parts for the S-400 earlier this month. Trump has so far taken a soft line on Turkey over its purchase, saying on Thursday that he did not envisage sanctions "for now".

But Washington responded by kicking Turkey out of its F-35 fighter jet programme - a loss of billions of dollars for Turkish defence contractors.

The US says Russia could glean technical secrets about the new fighter jet if it is operated alongside the S-400.

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