Apr 29 2019

White House ignores Erdoğan's proposal for S-400 working group in readout

(Updated with White House readout)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put forward a proposal to create a working group on the Russian S-400 air defence system during phone call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Monday, according to the Turkish Presidency.

The Turkish President "brought up the proposal to establish a working group regarding the procurement of the S-400 defence system from the Russian Federation," Ankara’s statement on the call between the leaders said.

The White House approximately 3 hours after the release of the Turkish statement, sent out a readout for distribution via its White House press pool. Despite the emphasis by Turkish media on the "S-400 working group," there was no reference made to such a group in the text, which said:

The two leaders discussed a number of bilateral issues, including their shared desire to increase trade, the progress made in negotiations to address respective security concerns in northern Syria, and Turkey's planned purchase of the S-400 missile defense system.  President Erdogan also expressed his condolences for the attack at the synagogue in San Diego.

The Turkish president's readout also condemned the deadly shooting at a synagogue near San Diego over the weekend and expressed his condolences to American people.

The United States' government branches oppose the Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400 system, arguing that such a deployment would compromise the U.S. F-35 stealth jets, which were set to be transferred to Turkey.

Following Ankara’s determination to go through with the S-400, the Pentagon in early April put brakes on the transferring the F-35 equipment to Turkey.

There are several bills introduced at the Congress foreseeing to block the rest of F-35s if Turkey goes ahead with the procurement.

Turkish officials have been working towards creating a working group with their U.S. counterparts on S-400s to prove that F-35s will be safe and protected from any security infringement stemming from the Russian radar system.

The two leaders also reiterated the aim for $75 billion trade volume goal, Ankara's statement added. Washington's statement only made a reference to "shared goal to increase trade."

Two leaders also discussed the latest developments in Syria, according to both readouts.