Depriving Turkey of F-35 would jeopardize deterrence of NATO: Akar
Turkey's defense minister and the U.S. special envoy for Syria discussed the situation in the northern Syrian town of Manbij and the east of Euphrates River on June 27, according to a statement from the Turkish defense ministry.
During their meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Hulusi Akar and James Jeffrey also discussed the latest developments in Syria, the statement said.
Akar told Jeffrey that Turkey expected the U.S. to keep its promises on Manbij, it said.
Last year, Ankara and Washington reached a deal stipulating the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the town for the stability of the region, located in the northern part of Syria's Aleppo province.
Akar reiterated Turkey's views for the formation of a safe zone into the east of the Euphrates River, the statement added.
Turkey previously underlined that a safe zone in this area would need to be free of YPG/PKK terrorists and that the region's safety must be secured by Turkey.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency after the meeting, Akar said the security of the F-35 fighter jet project and the jets themselves were of great importance to Turkey, as it is for the U.S.
"Efforts to deprive Turkey of F-35 fighter jet would significantly jeopardize the defense and deterrence of NATO," Akar stressed.
He said that Turkey had fulfilled all its responsibilities as a member of the F-35 program.
The F-35 project was a "commercial treaty" and that Turkey would defend all its rights in this respect, he added.
Turkey joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program in 2002 and has invested more than $1.25 billion. It also manufactures various aircraft parts for all F-35 variants and customers.
Stressing that Turkey expected a relationship with the U.S. based on mutual respect and friendship, he assumed that the two countries would be able to move forward on a "constructive road" on this issue.
He also reiterated Turkey's call for the formation of a working group with the participation of NATO on Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missiles in order to discuss the concerns of the U.S.
Meanwhile, Akar and U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met in the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 26.
The officials addressed other issues regarding the bilateral security and defense cooperation during the meeting as well, according to another statement by Turkey's defense ministry.
The meeting also underscored that it is important to continue the dialogue between the two countries.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a terrorist group recognized by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.