ANKARA: Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he sees an improvement in talks with the United States over the purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems and US F-35 fighter jets, but added that Ankara was also preparing for potential US sanctions.
Turkey and the United States are at odds over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says the move would jeopardize Ankara’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by the S-400s.
Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, Akar said that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and that Ankara expected the program to continue as planned. He said talks with US officials were still underway.
He also said Turkey was evaluating a US offer to purchase the Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, adding that Ankara and Washington were working on price, technology transfer, joint production issues on the latest offer from US officials.
Akar said their military personnel are receiving training to operate the S-400 missile defense system.
Turkey has repeatedly said that the S-400 agreement is a “done deal” and cannot be canceled but Akar said US officials insist that “no deal is a done deal.”