Turkey-US discussions will reveal views on safe zone: Turkish FM

Turkey-US discussions will reveal views on safe zone: Turkish FM

Sevil Erkuş – ANKARA
Turkey-US discussions will reveal views on safe zone: Turkish FM

Discussions between Turkey and the U.S. will unfold whether the perceptions of the two countries regarding the safe zone in Syria are overlapping, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 17.

“The first talk about that was held between our Chief of Staff General Yaşar Güler and [his U.S. counterpart] Joseph Dunford yesterday in Brussels,” the minister, said speaking at a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart.

The proposed safe zone is important both for the country’s stability and displaced Syrians’ return home, he noted.

“A safe zone in northern Syria is important for stability, the return home of Syrians including our Kurdish brothers, and the fight against terrorism,” he stated.

When asked about an attack in Manbij which killed American soldiers, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey knew that five U.S. service members were killed but there is no confirmed information about the others. The U.S. will share the information it gathered with Turkey, he added.

“Who is behind this will be unveiled. If there will be a request for help from Turkey, we will do everything in our power. Terrorist organizations should not affect our determination and our decisions,” he added.

Regarding the U.S. proposal on Patriot missiles, Çavuşoğlu stressed that the date of delivery, price, credit facility, co-production and technology transfer are important criteria for the purchase.

“Today, we have purchased the S-400s, we need them. It is a fact that we need more. Because the only ones left along our border are Italian SAMP-T and Spanish Patriot batteries,” the minister said, stressing the “true alliance” Italy and Spain has been showing.

The minister was referring to a U.S. technical team that visited Ankara on Jan. 15-16 to express their specific concerns over the latter’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems particularly in regards to the flight safety of F-35 aircrafts.

The United States has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of the multibillion dollar Patriot air defense systems in a bid to increase its pressure on the latter’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 systems.

In 2013, Turkey has chosen a Chinese defense firm for its $4 billion long-range air and missile defense system tender, rejecting rival bids from Russian, U.S., French and Italian firms on the grounds of technology transfer and joint production.

The other bidders were the U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.