Turkey sees 'honest discussion' with U.S. over Russian S-400s

Turkey foresees an honest discussion with the United States over its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles when the two countries’ leaders meet at the White House this week.

Geopolitical considerations mean that Turkey must have multiple air and missile defences, Fahrettin Altun, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s communications chief, told Bloomberg in an interview. Turkey also stands ready to add Patriot missiles to its arsenal, he said.

“When we expressed our desire to buy the Patriots, the U.S. set a condition for us to not purchase the S-400s,” Altun said.

The meeting between Trump and Erdoğan comes at a time when Congress is considering imposing economic sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of the Russian air defence missiles and for its October military incursion of Syria, which targeted Kurds allied with the United States in its battle to eradicate Islamic State (ISIS) from Syria.

“I’m confident Erdoğan and Trump will have an honest discussion on this,” Altun said, referring to the missile dispute. “I believe the two leaders can find a solution that’s acceptable and can be implemented.”

Trump sent a letter to Erdoğan last week warning of sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the S-400s, the Middle East Eye reported on Monday. The letter follows another sent on Oct. 9 warning Erdoğan against an invasion of Syria. The first letter made international headlines after Trump warned Erdoğan not to be a “fool” by launching the attack.

Turkey could be re-admitted into a U.S. led programme to build F-35 fighter jets -- it was barred after it bought the missiles -- if it agrees not to activate the S-400s, Trump said in his latest letter, according to MEE. Ankara should also commit to not purchasing Russian weapons systems in the future, it said.