Trump to discuss Turkey with GOP senators at White House next week
U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Republican senators to the White House for a meeting to discuss possible sanctions on Turkey after its suspension from the F-35 fighter jet program over purchasing a Russian-made S-400 air defense system, a report by the Washington Post said Friday.
Citing two officials familiar with the matter, the report noted that the meeting, which will address "Turkey sanctions," will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
While some Republican senators are advocating sanctions against Turkey in response to the S-400 row, Trump has adopted a confusing stance regarding the matter.
He initially said the sanctions are not under consideration "right now," before later telling reporters "we're looking at it."
The president said the situation is "very very difficult," as he blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for the row.
"The previous administration made some very big mistakes with regard to Turkey and it was too bad," Trump said in the Oval Office earlier this week. "So we're looking at it, we'll see what we do. We haven't announced that yet."
Trump said earlier Tuesday: "The Obama administration would not sell them the Patriot missiles. They needed the Patriot missiles for defense. They would not sell them under any circumstance. And Turkey tried very hard to buy them and they wouldn't sell them, and this went on for a long period of time."
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400s.
U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy American-made Patriot missiles, arguing that the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to possible Russian subterfuge. Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.