Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has said that Turkey is not just a client of United States’ F-35 fighter aircraft, but also a partner of its technology, state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Thursday.
“Turkey is and will continue to be, a partner of the F-35 technology. We are not just a client or buyer of the F-35s,” Kalin told the press after a Cabinet meeting in the capital of Ankara on Thursday.
In 2017, Turkey signed an S-400 air defense system deal with Russia, which led to ongoing friction between Turkey and the US, as the latter expressed strong disapproval of the deal.
Acting Pentagon spokesman, Charles Summer, said in March that Turkey will face grave consequences if it does not reverse its decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.
However, Turkish President Erdogan has shown determination to push ahead with the S-400 purchase plan and refused an offer by the US to purchase the Patriot air defense missiles.
In an attempt to make Ankara cancel its S-400 purchase, US froze the delivery of F-35 fighter jet equipment to Turkey two weeks ago.
On Monday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced during a US-Turkey conference in Washington that they have received a renewed offer for the Patriot. “This offer is now on the table; we are studying it carefully,” Akar said.
Akar also commented on repercussions Ankara is said to face for buying the Russian S-400 system under a sanctions law known as Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSAA).
“Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system should not trigger US sanctions because Ankara remains committed to the NATO alliance,” Akar underlined.
The US and other NATO member countries that are part of the F-35 program have said that Turkey’s plan to buy the S-400s would compromise the security of the F-35 aircraft.
Kalin also commented on the safe zone that the US and Turkey will work on together to establish in Syria next to the Turkish border.
“Turkey expects the US pullout from Syria to continue and a safe zone to be established under Turkey’s control,” he said.
Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, James Jeffrey, stated on Monday that the safe zone will be created without the presence of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkey deems YPG, a Kurdish militia that forms the central command structure of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a terrorist group due to its affiliation with the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a rebellious group which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.
The two NATO allies have been at odds with each other regarding a series of diplomatic rows that involve Turkey’s demands that the US extradite Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.