Procurement of Patriots on agenda of US-Turkey defense trade dialogue
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish and U.S. officials will have a round table meeting on March 30 in Ankara as part of the 5th gathering of Turkey-U.S. Defense Trade Dialogue with procurement of Patriot missile defense systems are on the agenda of two NATO allies.
U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow will be visiting Ankara as part of a regional trip including Iraq.
“In Ankara, Turkey, Ambassador Kaidanow will meet with Turkish officials to discuss bilateral defense trade and security cooperation. She will meet with representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense, and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to share U.S. perspectives on bilateral and regional security issues as part of the U.S.-Turkey Defense Trade Dialogue, and will hold a roundtable discussion with representatives from major U.S. and Turkish defense manufacturers,” the U.S. State Department said in a written statement.
Washington has for months urged Turkey to revise its decision to procure Russian S-400 missile defense systems, saying they will not be interoperable with NATO systems.
In December last year, Turkey and Russia signed an accord for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, finalizing a deal set to deepen military ties between NATO member Turkey and the Kremlin.
However, since then the U.S. Congress has adopted a law to sanction a number of Russian companies, which could also target Turkey due to its procurement of S-400 systems. Ankara argues that it should not be affected because the deal with Russia was struck before the U.S. law was adopted.
During a visit by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February, the two sides agreed to discuss the issue on technical level.
On March 26, Turkish government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ told reporters that the issue of S-400 defense systems was addressed during a phone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the former proposing to sell U.S. Patriot systems.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters recently that Turkey approached the U.S. with the proposal of buying the Patriors, while Ankara also continues to hold talks with the Franco-Italian consortium Eurosam to buy missile defense systems.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın is set to pay a working visit to Washington on March 30, aiming to maintain the relative momentum achieved in dialogue through the initiative of Tillerson.
During his visit Yalçın will meet U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and “discuss Turkey-U.S. relations along with international and regional matters,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
It added that the results of working group meetings held on March 8-9 in Washington will also be assessed during the meeting.
Sullivan is the deputy secretary to whom Tillerson delegated his authority during the transition process until the new secretary of state, expected to be Mike Pompeo, takes his seat.
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been strained over a number of issues in recent months, including Washington’s partnership with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In a bid to iron out problems, Turkey and the U.S. have established working groups to discuss a number of issues, including the situation in Manbij.
The departure of Tillerson had delayed a visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu previously set for March 19. Yalçın’s visit may be expected to address some of the issues that were due to be tackled at that meeting.
Çavuşoğlu had stated earlier that Ankara and Washington “should not put a chill” on work regarding a mechanism to “stabilize” the town of Manbij in Syria, saying officials from two countries will meet in the coming days.