The U.S. has yet to respond to Turkey’s proposed working group to address concerns about the Russian S-400 missile defense system, a Turkish deputy foreign minister said Wednesday.
Yavuz Selim Kiran is in Washington as part of a delegation that includes Cagri Erhan, a member of the Turkish Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Committee, and journalist Bora Bayraktar.
The delegation arrived Monday for a series of talks in Washington and New York to increase awareness of U.S.-Turkish relations as well as dispelling misinformation on the subject.
Speaking to Turkish reporters at Turkish embassy, Kiran said Ankara has been taking Washington’s concerns under consideration on the Russian defense system.
“We are sure that this [working group] will dispel America’s concerns and render discussions on the S-400 system will jeopardize F-35’s presence pointlessly,” Kiran said. “And we are open to any kind of diplomacy and dialogue on this issue.”
In early April, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Turkey proposed Washington establish a technical working group to make sure the S-400 system would not pose a threat to F-35 fighter jets or NATO systems.
Kiran said his delegation met six American lawmakers to convey Turkey’s reasons on the S-400 purchase as well as U.S. long-standing inaction to provide Ankara with necessary air defense systems, referring to Patriot missiles.
“We witnessed that the senators and Congress members did not have much information about the background of this purchase,” said Kiran.
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 which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey’s role in the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program and which could trigger congressional sanctions.
The U.S. has already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey’s receipt of the multi-million dollar fighter jets.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.