Tensions between Turkey and the US are running high over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400 missile defenses, which are not compatible with NATO systems, Reuters reported.
US officials say Turkey’s planned purchase would jeopardize its role in building F-35 fighter jets as well as its purchase of the aircraft, which Washington says would be compromised by the presence of the S-400s.
The US and other NATO allies that own F-35s fear the radar on the system will learn how to spot and track the jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons.
Ankara says US concerns are overstated and has been pushing Washington to establish a working group to assess the risks the system would be posing to the F-35 jet.
“We are exchanging opinions on how this could work, we will continue to share our views. Once we agree on that, we will decide if there will be a working group or not,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
“The discussions are ongoing, there is nothing certain yet,” he added.
On Monday, a source familiar with the matter said the US had asked Turkey to delay taking delivery of the S-400 system, currently scheduled for July, in return for potentially approving the formation of the working group.
“There is no such thing as postponing or canceling at this stage,” Cavusoglu said.
“It’s not on the agenda either.”
The disagreement is the latest in a series of diplomatic disputes between the US and Turkey. They include Turkish demands that Washington extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.
A Turkish court on Wednesday remanded in jail US Consulate employee Metin Topuz and set the next session of his trial on espionage charges for June 28, a lawyer for Topuz said.
On Tuesday, a high-ranking Russian official said the implementation of his country’s deal to deliver advanced S-400 air defense missile systems to Turkey is in full swing despite US pressure and threats of imposing sanctions on Ankara over the purchase of the military hardware.
Speaking at a press conference in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russian presidential aide, Yury Ushakov, said Moscow is aware of the fact that Washington attempts to persuade Ankara to suspend the deal.
“What the Americans insist, we know. But implementation of the agreement, which was reached a few months ago, is in full swing,” Ushakov pointed out.