No indication of sanctions from Trump over S-400 purchase, says Erdoğan
U.S. President Donald Trump has not given any indication that he intends to impose sanctions against Ankara over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.
"So far in my conversations with President Trump I didn’t get the impression that the United States would sanction Turkey over the S-400 purchase. Only lower level officials bring that up," the Turkish president told reports ahead of his trip to Osaka, Japan to attend the G-20 Summit.
"I didn’t know that NATO allies had started to sanction each other," left-wing new site Duvar quoted him as saying.
Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 system has strained ties with the United States, which says the systems are not compatible with NATO equipment and may compromise its F-35 fighter jets. Washington has warned of possible U.S. sanctions if Ankara follows through with the Russian deal, but Ankara has repeatedly stated the S-400 purchase is a done deal.
Erdoğan said Ankara was merely waiting on the delivery of the missile systems, a topic that he plans to discuss with his counterpart Trump in the upcoming G-20 summit in Japan.
The Turkish president also said that he would discuss Syria with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit.
"The attacks in Idlib are ongoing,’’ Erdoğan said, adding that Ankara would continue to push for the creation of a safe zone at the presidential and foreign ministerial levels.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in May launched an intensive bombing campaign on the province, targeting civilian residences and infrastructure as well as rebel outposts. Hundreds were killed in the bombing.
Turkey and Russia signed a deal last September to prevent a regime onslaught against the rebel forces in Idlib, which is the last opposition-controlled province in the country. Staunch Assad ally Russia has accused Turkey of failing to clear the region of the jihadist opposition Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group and thus failing to fulfil the terms of the agreement.
Erdoğan also touched on the struggle for rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
Erdoğan stressed that Ankara and had a say over drilling in the region and questioned whether the United States had such a right.
‘’We have a right as a guarantor. There are three countries which have a right of say on this matter,’’ Erdoğan said.
Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece signed a Treaty of Guarantee with the Republic of Cyprus when the island became independent in 1960.
Tensions have been soaring between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece over offshore drilling for oil and gas. European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region.
Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims of drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island.
Erdoğan’s statements arrive as the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has advanced a bipartisan bill that updates the U.S. strategy in the eastern Mediterranean and requires the State Department to monitor Turkish violations in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The G20 Osaka summit is scheduled for June 28-29. Erdoğan is slated to visit China following the summit.