Biden, Erdogan Reach ‘No Resolution’ on S-400 Missiles

U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan were unable to come to a resolution over Ankara’s purchase of Russian missile defenses but committed to maintain talks on the issue, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday.

“On the S-400, they discussed it” when they met Monday on the sidelines of a NATO summit, Sullivan told a press call. “There was not a resolution of the issue.”

Biden, Erdogan Reach ‘No Resolution’ on S-400 Missiles

However, the U.S. and Turkish presidents agreed to keep the lines of communication open toward resolving the issue of the advanced Russian missile-defense system. Turkey has refused to scrap the missiles as demanded by Washington to lift U.S. sanctions on Turkey. Erdogan said after meeting with Biden that Turkey’s position remains unchanged.

“There was a commitment to continue the dialogue on the S-400,” Sullivan said. “And the two teams will be following up on that coming out of the meeting.”

The U.S. worries that the S-400 could be used to collect intelligence on the stealth capabilities of the F-35 fighter jet that Turkey has helped to build and wants to purchase.

Erdogan criticized the U.S. for refusing to sell its Patriot missile defense system to Turkey and for suspending Turkey from the F-35 fighter program.

Kabul Airport

While Erdogan’s first talks with Biden as U.S. president yielded no breakthrough on rifts that have strained relations, it paved way for trust-building cooperation in Afghanistan.

Biden committed to providing U.S. support to Turkey that would safeguard the Kabul airport against a resurgent Taliban, Sullivan said.

“The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute against that,” Sullivan said on the call Thursday.

As the last U.S. troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next month, Turkey asked the U.S. to share the financial and security burden of having its troops safeguard the Kabul airport, a critical issue for the U.S. as it seeks to maintain a diplomatic presence in the city. “President Biden committed that that support would be forthcoming,” Sullivan said of Erdogan’s request of certain forms of support.

The airport is key for the U.S. and every other country wanting to keep a diplomatic and strategic presence in Afghanistan as Washington winds down its longest war after 20 years. Australia, citing increasingly uncertain security environment, closed down its embassy in Kabul last month.

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