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Thursday, January 14, 2021, 14:57
Turkey says turning back on S-400s 'problematic', seeks US dialogue
By Reuters
Thursday, January 14, 2021, 14:57 By Reuters

This handout picture taken and released on Aug 27, 2019 by the Turkish Defense Ministry shows a Russian military cargo plane, carrying S-400 missile defense system from Russia, during its unloading at the Murted military airbase, northwest of Ankara. (PHOTO / TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTRY / AFP)

ANKARA - Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said it would be “very problematic” for Ankara to turn back on its purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems but expressed hope that a dispute with the United States on the issue could be resolved through dialogue.

Akar also reiterated that Turkey was in talks with Russia on obtaining a second consignment of the S-400 defense systems.

... We invite (the United States) to distance themselves from threatening language such as sanctions. We want the solution of problems through dialogue.

Hulusi Akar, Turkish defense minister

Washington slapped sanctions on NATO ally Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate (SSB), its chief Ismail Demir and three other employees last month following its acquisition of the S-400s.

“It is a very problematic situation to turn back from the point we have come to. We invite (the United States) to distance themselves from threatening language such as sanctions,” Akar told journalists in Ankara.

ALSO READ: Turkey says won't turn back on S-400 purchase despite sanctions

“We want the solution of problems through dialogue. If the US side wants a solution, a solution could be found with work on the technical level,” he said.

The sanctions were imposed at a challenging time in the fraught relationship between Ankara and Washington. US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office on Jan 20, replacing Donald Trump. Biden has been critical of President Tayyip Erdogan’s policies in the past.

Turkey has defended its acquisition of the S-400s as a necessity because it was unable to procure air defense systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms.

READ MORE: Turkey ready to operate Russian S-400 missiles

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defence systems. Turkey rejects this and says S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.

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