Turkish Foreign Minister Denies Expulsion From US F-35 Program Over S-400 Deal With Russia
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denied on Thursday that his country was on its way out of the United States' F-35 fighter jet program following a spat over Russian missile purchases.
"Removing us from the F-35 program is not being discussed. I think we will find a consensus. Otherwise, both countries will take steps that will hurt their relationship," he warned.
He said Ankara was in talks regarding the deal to jointly build stealth fighter jets with the United States, which last month announced that it had begun easing out Turkey's involvement in the program and shifting the supply chain.
The United States stopped training Turkish pilots at its bases after Turkey refused to abandon a deal to acquire Russian S-400 advanced surface-to-air weapon systems. Washington has argued that the deployment of the systems together with F-35s could compromise the project.
The disagreements over S-400s and F-35 marked a major rift in US-Turkish relations, with Washington threatening Ankara with sanctions and exclusion from NATO.
Russia and Turkey signed an agreement for the delivery of four S-400 batteries in December 2017. On 25 July, Russia completed the first phase of shipments with the second batch planned to be delivered in August-September.
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