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Iran Press TV

US taking no step to create S-400 working group: Turkey

Iran Press TV

Mon Jun 10, 2019 04:47PM

A senior Turkish official says the United States has not moved to create a joint working group to discuss Ankara's pending procurement of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.

Ismail Demir, the head of the Turkish Defense Industries Directorate, said on Monday that Turkey was ready to discuss Washington's concerns regarding the purchase of the advanced Russian defense systems but the proposed working group has yet to be formed.

"If the source of the concerns is a technical worry stemming from the S-400s being located in Turkey, we have said repeatedly that we are ready to discuss this," Demir said. "However, the other side (United States) has not taken any steps to form the technical team and discuss this."

Demir's comments come after US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, in which he outlined how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 program if it pressed on with the S-400 deal.

Demir said the Defense Ministry and his directorate were working on sending a response soon.

The US has been pressuring the NATO member to halt planned purchase of the Russian system but to no avail so far.

Washington says the S-400s, which are not compatible with the transatlantic alliance's systems, pose a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighters and has warned of potential US sanctions if Ankara presses on with the deal.

The United States announced on April 1 that it would be suspending all "deliveries and activities" related to Turkey's procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara's plans to purchase the S-400.

Turkey, one of the core partners in the F-35 program and a prospective buyer, has said the S-400s will not impact the jets and has proposed to Washington forming a joint working group to assess US concerns.

The United States warned Turkey on Friday that it must abandon a deal with Russia to buy an S-400 missile defense system before the end of July or cannot continue participating in the F-35 fighter jet program.

The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey's air defense.

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