Turkey is partner of F-35 technology: Presidential aide
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Speaking to the reporters following a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara, Ibrahim Kalın said: "Turkey is and will continue to be a partner of F-35 technology. We are not just a client or buyer of F-35s."
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile system that Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and which could trigger congressional sanctions.
Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success.
Proposed safe zone in Syria
Kalın also highlighted Turkey's concerns and expectations about Syria crisis.
"Turkey expects the U.S. pullout from Syria to continue and a safe zone to be established under Turkey's control," he stated.
Washington maintains nearly 2,000 troops in Syria following its announcement that only a few hundred would remain after withdrawal efforts of its forces.
In December, U.S. President Donald Trump suddenly announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, however, since then Washington has backtracked and said in February a few hundred troops would remain for peacekeeping efforts and to create the safe zone.
Turkey's priority in Syria is "to make İdlib agreement permanent,” he also stressed.
Following a meeting last September between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in İdlib, Syria.
Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib are to remain in areas where they are already present, while Russia and Turkey conduct patrols to prevent renewed fighting.
"Our works continue intensely for an end to the war and the establishment of a constitutional commission, as well as ensuring a political transition process through elections, on the basis of Syria's territorial integrity and unity,” Kalın said.
'Dialogue with Syrian regime out of question'
On April 17, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he met with Syria's Bashar al-Assad on April 16 and will inform Turkish President Erdoğan about the meeting.
Asked whether any clear message came from Damascus to Ankara, Kalın said Zarif's visit to Turkey after Syria may establish a ground for such comments, “but it is out of question for us to seek such a mediation”.
Iran is a country Turkey cooperates with in Syria issue, but they are in dissidence over the future of Assad regime in Syria, Kalın said.
"A contact or dialogue with regime is out of question," said Kalın. "When we need to send a message [to Syria], we do this via Iran and Russia."