Erdogan Says US Refusal To Deliver F-35 Jets Would Be ‘Robbery

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ANKARA — US-Turkey ties are under strain due to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system that is due for delivery in a few days. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said if the US denied the F-35 fighter jest it bought, it would be robbery.

Trump administration plans on imposing sanctions on Turkey for purchase of S-400 and remove it from a critical fighter jet programme.

It has also threatened to cancel Turkey’s order of 116 F-35 fighter jets.

“If you seek a customer, and a customer comes forward and makes payments like clockwork, how can you not give that customer their goods? This would be robbery,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet daily. Turkey had already paid $1.4 billion, while its defence industry has ploughed significant sums into the warplanes’ production.

In the meantime, Erdogan has said he is ready to accept an offer to mediate talks between Iran and the US to ease rising tension between the two. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s attempts to decrease escalating tensions in the Mid-East failed. “Abe asked me whether we can act together on this issue. I said, why not. I can talk to both of them, Khamenei and (President Hassan) Rouhani,” said Erdogan.

Erdogan met with Abe on sidelines of the G20 summit. The acting US defence secretary, Patrick Shanahan, in a letter to Ankara last month, warned that Turkish pilots would be expelled from the US if the S-400 deal was not cancelled by July 31. Erdogan after meeting Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit, said he had been assured that there won’t be any sanctions.

Turkey has previously said Russia offered a better deal including joint production. In his latest comments, Erdogan said Trump’s attitude was “praiseworthy”.

“The United States has consistently and clearly stated that Turkey will face very real and negative consequences if it proceeds with its S-400 acquisition, including suspension of procurement and industrial participation in the F-35 programme and exposure to sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” a US State Department spokesperson said.  

 


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