Turkey-Russia S-400 deal still on: Def industries head
Turkey remains committed to an agreement with Russia regarding the purchase of its S-400 missile defense batteries while negotiations are ongoing with the Washington for Patriot systems, the country's defense industry chief said on Thursday.
"We [Turkey] are a serious country, our deal with Russia continues, we also negotiate with the U.S.," Turkish Defense Industries (SSB) President Ismail Demir told Anadolu Agency, speaking after a handover ceremony of mobile surveillance equipment in the capital Ankara.
Demir said the country's defense industries were on the same page as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who had previously said that Ankara does not intend to delay or suspend the purchase.
He added that the delivery of the S-400 missile system had already been discussed with Russian officials and delivery could take place in June -- earlier than initially planned.
Bilateral negotiations with the U.S. will continue, Demir said, without revealing further details.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system of Russia.
U.S. officials have suggested Turkey buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems and is a threat to the F-35 fifth-generation stealth aircraft.
Turkey responded it was the U.S. refusal to sell it Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia offered a better deal, including technology transfers.