US says there is no working group on CAATSA, rebuking Çavuşoğlu

A United States spokesperson denied earlier remarks made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu about the joint working group proposal. The U.S. official told Ahval that "there is no working group regarding CAATSA sanctions or to “study” the threat posed by the S-400 system to the F-35."

Earlier in the day, Çavuşoğlu said that the United States has proposed a joint working group to discuss recent sanctions imposed on Turkey for its acquisition last year of Russian S-400 air defence missiles.

US State Department senior official, in an email message, said "There are routine working-level consultations regarding the impact of the sanctions on existing military-to-military cooperation" but this is not a joint working group. US spokesperson added, "We remain committed to the full implementation of sanctions as announced by Secretary Pompeo on December 14."

“As we naturally always favour dialogue, we said yes, and negotiations began at the level of experts,” Çavuşoğlu in a statement to review this year’s foreign policy developments, state news agency Anadolu Agency reported.

“Now the proposal came from the US. As we naturally always favor dialogue, we said yes, and negotiations began at the level of experts,” Cavusoglu said.

The working group could provide a way forward to lifting the sanctions, imposed on Dec. 14, Anadolu said. The sanctions targeted Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), including its head Ismail Demir and three other officials.

While opinions differed about whether the sanctions were heavy or not, imposing them was a misstep both politically and legally, Çavuşoğlu said.

“It is an attack on our sovereign rights,” he said.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.