Pompeo presses Turkey on S-400 missiles purchase from Russian Federation

Pompeo presses Turkey on S-400 missiles purchase from Russian Federation

Three U.S. senators introduced a measure on Thursday aimed at blocking the transfer of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and one of nine partner nations involved in producing the high-tech, radar-evading aircraft.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced a measure Thursday that would stop the transfer of the F-35A.

"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, United States interests", he added. "These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan´s regime increasingly risky", Lankford said in the statement.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed Friday that he met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the two reaffirmed a pledge to cooperate on the Syrian city of Manbij. Bne IntelliNews on April 26 drew attention to reports in the trade press on how there are fears that the future maintenance of the UK's F-35 fighter jets at the Turkish maintenance depot might be put at risk by Washington's displeasure with Ankara over its planned purchase of the Russian anti-aircraft hardware.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has previously said that a deal with the USA to reduce tensions over the Kurdish-held Manbij is "doable" but requires Washington to clear up confusion in its policy.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 F-35 aircraft and it is in negotiations to purchase some 16 others capable of short take-off and vertical landing, according to Turkish government sources.

"T$3 he Turkish government continues to move closer and closer to Russian Federation, as they hold an innocent American pastor in prison to use him as a pawn in political negotiations", Lankford said. Brunson denies the allegations. The senators voiced concern about Turkey's detention of a US preacher, Andrew Brunson, a long-time resident of Turkey who was jailed during Turkey's crackdown launched after a military coup attempt in July 2016.

The bill would restrict the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey and limit Ankara from receiving intellectual property or technical data needed to maintain and support the fighters. That proposal was also in response to the imprisonment of American pastor Brunson.

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