US senator wants to hold off sanctions bill on Turkey

US senator wants to hold off sanctions bill on Turkey

US senator wants to hold off sanctions bill on Turkey

The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Nov. 14 that he did not want lawmakers to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Turkey for now, to lessen friction during talks over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

“Probably it’s best we don’t pass a sanctions bill at this moment,” Senator Jim Risch said during a meeting with reporters in his office.

Risch was among a group of Republican senators President Donald Trump called to the White House on Nov. 13 for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The senator called the meeting "very therapeutic".

"President Erdoğan isn’t completely there yet, but it’s a give-and-take proposition,” he said.

“He is very clearly aware of the decisions that he has to make, and the repercussions for those decisions."

Different groups of lawmakers - including Risch and Senator Bob Menendez, the top Foreign Relations Democrat, introduced legislation that would impose stiff sanctions on Ankara.

Risch commented that the U.S. does not want to undermine its relationship with Turkey, but that the weapons sale cannot go ahead.

Turkey's acquisition of the advanced Russian air-defense system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.

The U.S. maintains that the system could be used by Russia to obtain classified details on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, maintains that the S-400 would neither be integrated into NATO systems, nor pose a threat to the alliance.