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'Trump assured no sanctions over Russia missile deal'

June 29, 2019

President Tayyip Erdogan said the delivery of Russian missile defense system would begin in the first half of July. The US previously warned that Turkey would be sanctioned if it went forward with the S-400 purchase.

Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan
Image: Getty Images/AFP/B. Smialowski

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Saturday he was reassured by President Donald Trump that Washington would not impose sanctions on Ankara over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

"We heard from him that there won't be anything like this (sanctions)," Erdogan told a press conference in Osaka, Japan, following a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

"It is out of the question that such a thing takes place between two strategic allies. I believe it cannot happen," Erdogan said.

Erdogan said that Turkey expected the delivery of US F-35 stealth fighter jets despite the controversy over the S-400 deal.

Read more: Turkey confirms Russia S-400 missile deal, ignores US warning

There hasn't been any confirmation from the US on Erdogan's assertion. According to Reuters, Trump expressed understanding for Turkey's decision but did not rule out sanctions in response.

Russia has deployed the S-400 system in Syria, with observers describing it as one of the most successful missile defense systems on the planet
Russia has deployed the S-400 system in Syria, with observers describing it as one of the most successful missile defense systems on the planetImage: picturealliance/A. Pavlishak/TASS/dpa

Erdogan also said that he expected the S-400 delivery to start in the first half of July, adding that Turkey had invested $1.4 billion (€1.23 billion) in its production so far.

"Our related institutions have stated that the delivery would start within the first half of the month of July," Erdogan said. "The expectations are within this timeframe."

Tense US-Turkey ties

Erdogan's claim that the US won't sanction Turkey over S-400 purchase came just days after acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed Washington's concern over the missile system deal.

"Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and ally for many, many years," Esper told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Wednesday. "The pursuit of the S-400 undermines that."

Turkey's plan to buy the Russian air defense system has been a cause of tension within the NATO military alliance, which both the United States and Turkey belong to. The US and other NATO members fear Russia could spy on NATO aircraft through the S-400 system.

Read more: Opinion: Erdogan's ego trip buying Russian arms

To discourage Ankara from entering the deal, Washington suspended a joint F-35 fighter jet program and threatened Turkey with further economic sanctions.

Before leaving to Japan for a G20 summit, Erdogan warned Washington against imposing sanctions on a fellow NATO ally.

"If NATO allies are now imposing sanctions on each other, I don't know anything about that," Erdogan said. "These are not impressions I got from the talks I have had with Mr. Trump until now."

shs/ng (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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