Erdogan Says No Step Back in Defense Cooperation With Russia
(Bloomberg) -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out reversing Turkey’s defense cooperation with Russia as he began talks with Vladimir Putin Wednesday that are also supposed to focus on the countries’ rival involvement in Syria’s war.
Erdogan expressed his willingness to discuss military ties with his Russian counterpart minutes before the two leaders went into closed-door bilateral negotiations.
Turkey, a member of NATO, and Russia have been negotiating over technology transfers and local production issues ahead of a potential purchase by Ankara of a second Russian-made S-400 missile-defense system.
The U.S., which has sanctioned Turkey over defense cooperation with Moscow that the western military bloc says threatens its security, has urged Erdogan’s government not to go ahead with the delivery of new Russian missiles, and to jettison the battery it has already acquired.
“There are steps that we’ve been jointly taking in the defense industry” and it would be beneficial for us to “talk about them,” Erdogan said in televised comments. “At the UN General Assembly, certain people specifically asked about some topics and we’ve given the necessary answer to them,” he said without elaborating. “It is out of question for us to reverse steps we’ve taken.”
While in New York last week, Erdogan told CBS he intends to press ahead with the S-400 program. That prompted some U.S. senators to warn that “any new purchases by Turkey must mean new sanctions,” according to a tweet by the office of Senate Foreign Relations Chair Robert Menendez.
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