Trump didn’t mention sanctions: Erdoğan
Turkey is confident that an ongoing row with the United States will be resolved without sanctions and that economic ties between the two NATO allies will further be boosted, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after his much-anticipated meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan on June 29.
“Our meeting with Mr. Trump has taken place in a very positive spirit. He lends support to us on the S-400 and F-35 issues. He openly said in front of the press that they consider different options in regards to the sanctions and that Turkey was not treated fairly,” Erdoğan told journalists travelling with him late June 29 in Tokyo.
Trump, both before his meeting with Erdoğan and at the press conference afterwards, blamed the previous Obama administration for the S-400 crisis and spoke about efforts to resolve this “complicated problem.”
On a question on whether Trump ruled out imposing sanctions on Turkey, Erdoğan recalled that he has never heard from the U.S. president – either on the phone or in-person meetings – that sanctions would be considered if Turkey purchases S-400 missile system from Russia.
“On S-400s, he told me ‘You are right.’ And we have moved this one step further today. Mr. Trump said ‘It’s unjust.’ This is very important,” Erdoğan said, recalling that Trump also discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Osaka.
“Mr. Putin has already told us about his meeting with Trump. Their meeting was also in the right direction. I am of the opinion that we will overcome this process without any problem. In the meantime, we will be able to carry our ties further through Mr. Trump’s visit to Turkey and a joint business council. Meanwhile, we, THY [Turkish Airlines], are buying 100 planes from Boeing,” he stated.
Erdoğan described the following stage in the S-400 process as very significant, with indirect calls on U.S. officials not to make different statements after Trump made his position clear on the issue.
“Because Mr. Trump has made his position clear with his statement,” Erdoğan said, reiterating his expectation that no sanctions will be imposed on Turkey.
Erdoğan informed that the training process of the Turkish personnel for the S-400s has been completed, underlining that the first parts of the S-400s will begin to be delivered in a week or in 10 days. “We are at this stage. All sorts of preparations have been completed. I openly told Trump about this, likewise Mr. Putin, too,” he stated.
F-35 will be resolved
One of the first sanctions imposed on Turkey in relation with the S-400 issue was the decision to expel it from the F-35 aircraft project in which the Turkish defense industry is also a production partner.
Erdoğan said Trump’s position on the delivery of F-35s to Turkey was also very important. “He said ‘They have paid $1.4 billion but you don’t deliver their goods. This is not a good reputation’,” Erdoğan said, praising Trump’s sincerity and honesty in handling this issue.
Turkey plans to purchase 116 F-35 aircrafts and is making its payments orderly, Erdoğan said, informing that a $50 million transaction has been realized last week. “He [Mr. Trump] has rightly criticized this treatment on a country, on a strategic partner. He said ‘They make payments but we don’t give their aircrafts.’ Does this treatment suit a country like the U.S.?” Erdoğan asked.
Asked whether Turkey would also procure the Patriot air defense systems from the U.S., Erdoğan underlined that Turkey must first see the conditions of the Patriot offer.
One important issue the two presidents also discussed was Erdoğan’s invitation to Trump for a state visit.
“Mr. Trump will visit Turkey this year. We have come to a point on this and our officials will follow it. We will also realize a business council meeting or businessmen meeting as part of this visit,” Erdoğan said, reaffirming a joint objective of increasing the bilateral trade to $75 billion.
Erdoğan informed that he discussed recent developments with regard to Syria and in particular Idlib with both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, after Turkish observation posts were targeted by Syrian regime forces.
“We have made our assessments on all these. Our measures are taken. In addition, we have discussed holding a three-way Turkey-Russia-Iran summit. This will be held very soon, early July,” he said. This meeting will be followed by a four-way summit between Turkey, Russia, France and Germany, Erdoğan said.
Turkey continues to work with Russia on Idlib, with demands to use its influence on the Syrian regime to halt assaults into this province, Erdoğan stated.
“One of the issues we are overwhelmingly talking on is signs of an influx of 300,000 people towards our border. We wish that this influx stops. Around 330,000 Syrians have returned home. At a moment when we hope that this number would increase, a new influx from Idlib would nullify our efforts,” he stressed.
Erdoğan also stressed that he met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Osaka and asked him to play a leading role in calling on all countries to make investments in northwestern Syria to encourage the return of Syrians.
On a question about Turkey’s stance toward the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi death squad in Istanbul and the controversial death of Mohammad Morsi in Egypt, Erdoğan informed that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman left the G-20 meeting in Osaka when he started to talk or immediately before he took the floor. “Nobody is talking about this issue in such meetings.
Both [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi and Mohammad bin Salman should hear these issues from us,” he stated.
Erdoğan also expressed his views about a recent initiative of the U.S. for a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian question.” “We may never and ever find this initiative favorable,” Erdoğan said. “We said ‘Palestinian lands are not for sale.’ This is our stance.”