17:29 GMT10 July 2020
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    Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Ankara is set to retaliate against the sanctions that Washington intends to impose on Turkey over its purchase of Russia's S-400 air defence system.

    Linking the issue of Turkey buying Russian S-400 missile systems to the country’s participation in the F-35 fighter programme and the planned anti-Turkish sanctions is “completely” out of line with the spirit of the Ankara-Washington alliance, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in the Turkish capital on Monday.

    He claimed that US President Donald Trump understands this best of all and that Turkey wants to resolve all problems with the US in the context of “existing friendly relations.”

    At the same time, Cavusoglu urged Washington to make “concrete steps” towards an improvement in bilateral ties, not least to stop its cooperation with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara as a terrorist organisation.

    Cavusoglu went on to say that the US should respond positively to the Turkish government’s calls pertaining to the fight against FETO, an organisation considered by Ankara to be behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

    Russian S-400 Triumph missile system
    Russian Defence Ministry
    Russian S-400 Triumph missile system

    The remarks come a few weeks after Cavusoglu told the Turkish news TV channel TGRT Haber that Ankara is set to retaliate against the sanctions that Washington plans to impose on Turkey over its purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system.

    “If the United States slaps sanctions, we will respond in kind. A [relevant] step can also be taken with regard to the Incirlik airbase. This is a natural position under these circumstances, not a threat and blackmail,” Cavusoglu pointed out.

    Trump Says US ‘Looking at’ Sanctions on Turkey Over S-400 Deal

    The statement followed Trump stating that his administration has not ruled out imposing sanctions on Turkey over its move to acquire the S-400s.

    “It's a very, very difficult situation for a lot of reasons. So, we’re looking at it. We’ll see what we do. We haven’t announced that yet”, he told reporters in the Oval Office in mid-July.

    This was preceded by the White House’s announcement that it suspends Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme and that “the F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform [S-400] that will be used to learn about its {F-35’s] advanced capabilities”.

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    Earlier, the Turkish Defence Ministry announced the beginning of S-400 deliveries to the country, in line with the deal signed by Moscow and Ankara in December 2017.  

    Washington previously threatened to remove Turkey from the F-35 programme and announced that it would no longer train Turkish pilots to operate the fifth-generation jet over Ankara’s determination to adhere to what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described as a “done deal”.

    Ankara, however, stressed that the S-400 agreement will not affect its strategic relations with NATO, with Erdogan insisting that the alliance will only benefit if its member, Turkey, becomes stronger through the use of an advanced missile defence system.


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