TURKEY

Turkey urges US to avoid harmful steps on bilateral relations

Ankara urged the U.S. to avoid taking steps harmful to bilateral relations after the latter's comments on Russian S-400 defense system, which is expected to be delivered to Turkey in the upcoming months.

"The U.S. State Department Spokesperson's statement regarding Turkey's purchase of the S-400 air defense system does not comply with the spirit and the content of the meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 Summit," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Aksoy noted that Turkey has not yet received a response from Washington regarding the proposal for a working group on S-400s.

Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success.

The S-400 missile defense system is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles).

With the purchase of the S-400s, Ankara aims to build Turkey's first long-range air and anti-missile defense system to guard against threats in the region. Moreover, Turkey seeks to build its own missile defense systems as the deal also involves the transfer of technology and know-how.

The S-400 system, which was introduced in 2007, is the new generation of Russian missile systems, and so far Russia has only sold them to China and India.

U.S. officials have advised Turkey to buy the Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system from Moscow, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey has responded that it was the U.S.' refusal to sell it Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding Russia offered it a better deal, including technology transfers.

The two NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over the S-400s, which Washington says pose a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy.

The United States says Turkey cannot have both, but had avoided taking steps to curtail or halt planned training of Turkish pilots in the program.

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