ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey intends to seek compensation for its withdrawal from a US-led stealth fighter program, possibly in a meeting with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting next month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip said Erdogan.
Erdogan, speaking to reporters on a flight home from a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, also said there would be no “turning back” to the deal with Russia for Turkey’s acquisition of advanced S-400 missile defense systems. This agreement led to the withdrawal of NATO member Turkey from the international production program of F-35 fighter jets.
Erdogan said he hoped to meet Biden at the G-20 meeting in Rome to discuss the F-35 project, including a $ 1.4 billion payment Turkey made before it was ousted from the program. Another meeting between the Turkish and American leaders could also take place on the sidelines of a November climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Erdogan said.
“We made a payment of $ 1.4 billion, what will it be? Said Erdogan. “We don’t have – and don’t earn – this money easily. Either they will give us our planes or they will give us the money.
Asked about Turkey’s plans to purchase additional S-400 systems despite threats of further US sanctions, Erdogan replied, “The S-400 process continues. There is no going back. ”His comments were reported by the private Turkish news channel NTV and other media.
Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program and its defense officials sanctioned after the country bought the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system two years ago. The United States strongly opposes the use of the Russian system by NATO members, saying it poses a threat to the security of the F-35s.
Turkey maintains that the components of the S-400 could be used independently without being integrated into NATO systems and therefore pose no risk.
The United States also sanctioned Turkey for its purchase under a 2017 law aimed at pushing back Russian influence. It was the first time that the law, known as CAATSA, had been used to penalize a United States ally.
Erdogan’s talks with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi focused on measures that would deepen defense cooperation between Turkey and Russia, including partnerships for aircraft engines , fighter jets and submarines, said the Turkish leader.
Russia could also be involved in the construction of Turkey’s second and third nuclear power plants and a space launch platform, he said.
Erdogan traveled to Sochi to discuss the situation in Syria, where Turkey and Russia support parties opposed to the conflict. Russia is the Syrian government’s main ally, while Turkey supports groups that have fought to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Russian and Turkish troops, however, have cooperated in Idlib province, in northwestern Syria – the last stronghold of rebel forces – and in seeking a political solution in the country.
Erdogan said he and Putin agreed to continue working together to restore calm to Idlib.