ANKARA, Turkey – Top diplomats from the US and Turkey failed to negotiate sharp differences on Wednesday over Turkey’s purchase of an advanced Russian air defense system that Washington sees as a security threat.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish journalists after a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels that Turkey would not resign from its decision to operate the Russian S-400. The meeting, held on the sidelines of a NATO meeting, was the first since President Joe Biden’s administration took office in January.
“We told them again that Turkey has already bought the S-400 and that the problem is closed,” Cavusoglu said in television commentaries, despite US pressure on Ankara to get rid of the system.
However, he added that he also told Blinken that Turkey intended to source its future air defense needs from the United States or other NATO allies.
Turkey argues that the Russian system, which cost $ 2.5 billion, poses no threat to NATO and has repeatedly called for dialogue to resolve the problem. Washington insists that the sanctions cannot be lifted as long as the Russian system remains in Turkey’s possession.
A statement by the US State Department said on Wednesday: “Blinken urged Turkey not to maintain the Russian S-400 air defense system.”
On Tuesday, Blinken said during a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “It is no secret that we have differences with Turkey, including about the S-400.”
He continued, “It is also no secret that Turkey has been a long-standing and valued ally, and I believe we have a strong interest in staying anchored in NATO.”
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu told journalists that his talks with Blinken also focused on US-backed plans for Turkey, peace talks between the conflicting parties in Afghanistan before May 1 for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country respectively.
Turkey and the US worked to get the Afghan government and Taliban to reach an agreement on a “road map” for Afghanistan during the Turkey-hosted conference, Cavusoglu said.