Turkey says ready to seek solutions to S-400 missile systems crisis

Finding a solution to the deployment of the Russian S-400 missile systems is  “always possible,’’Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, reiterating that Turkey was ready to consider the concerns of its interlocutors over the systems.

“It is always possible to find reasonable and sensible solutions. Turkey's contribution to NATO and NATO's cooperation with Turkey are much deeper and comprehensive than F-35s, S-400s,” economy-focused Bloomberg HT Turkish cited Akar as saying during naval facility opening ceremony.

Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 in July 2019 caused a serious rupture in relations with Washington, which maintains the surface-to-air missile system is incompatiblewith NATOtechnology and a threat to theNATO alliance. The United States responded by booting the Turkish Air Force out of the F-35 joint strike fighter programme and ended the participation of Turkish firms in the industrial production of parts for the jet, in addition to imposing sanctions on Turkey over the purchase.

Turkey is acting “in an explicit and transparent manner during the talks (with the United States). It is always possible to find reasonable and sensible solutions. Turkey's contribution to NATO and NATO's cooperation with Turkey are much deeper and comprehensive than (the issue of the) F-35s, S-400s,” Akar said.

Akar’s remarks arrive as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden are set to meet for the first time since the latter took office earlier this year. The S-400 systems is among the string of issues plaguing Ankara-Washington relations set to be discussed during the meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit on June 14th in Brussels.

“Protecting our country and our 84 million citizens from any aerial threat,’’ was Turkey ‘s main goal in acquiring the systems, the country’s top defence official said.

Turkey last month announced that it would send home military experts from Russia assisting in the operation of the S-400s in a goodwill gesture to the United States.