U.S. is hopeful Turkey will abandon S-400s following Albayrak visit - Pentagon
The United States is very hopeful that Turkey will abandon its plans to buy Russian S-400 defence systems, Pentagon spokesperson Charles Summers told reporters on Thursday.
The statement came after Turkey's Economy Minister and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Albayrak told reporters later on that he asked Trump to issue a waiver over S-400 purchase and that he positively approached to the matter and Erdogan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin also said Turkey expects a waiver from Trump. Summers, commenting over a potential waiver for Turkey, said he does not have anything new on the subject.
Summers added that consultations over the issue with Turkey continue. When it comes to suspension of F-35 U.S. fighter jets to Turkey, Summers also said there is no update on the subject.
U.S. Senators put forward a bill in recent weeks requesting suspension of the transfer of the F-35 fighters to Turkey if Ankara goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 batteries.
Turkey has been one of the partners in the F-35 jets project since 2002 but due to its insistence of purchasing Russian defence equipment, now faces possible removal from the program.
During the press conference on Thursday, Summers gave no further detail with regards to a buffer zone which is planned to be established in northern Syria, another thorny issue between Washington and Ankara.
On Thursday, Erdoğan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said safe zone must be established under the Turkish control. Summers, on the same day at Pentagon said, "our Turkish allies and our SDF partners -- we know that they have legitimate issues that they're discussing. And those discussions are ongoing."
Ankara and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are not discussing the safe zone issue among themselves, as far as it is reported. Turkey views Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF, as the Syrian offshoot of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the United States.
When asked specifically if that is the case and SDF and Turkey discussing the safe zone together, Summers said, "I wouldn't have anything for you on that because those -- those are ongoing discussions."