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Turkey urges US to accept approval on technical examination to avoid S-400 crisis

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-05-13 09:51

Russian servicemen sit in the cabins of S-400 missile air defence systems in Tverskaya Street before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia April 29, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

ANKARA -- Turkey tries to convince the United States to accept its proposal on forming a committee for examination on technical concerns about its procurement of an advanced Russian missile defense system.

"The experts should say the last word. We said that a joint working group should be set up and NATO should chair it. We know what we do about it," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier.

Tensions between Ankara and Washington have reached a fever pitch over the former's plans for procurement of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

The United States said it will jeopardize Turkey's participation in the multi-million-dollar F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.

The United States already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to F-35s over its argument that the Russian system would compromise the security of F-35 fighter jets on the potential of gathering data about their advanced technology.

Washington also emphasizes that the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems in Turkey.

Ankara, in response, underscored that the S-400 systems would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Ankara said it plans to buy 100 F35 jets and already received four of them, but the aircraft are still in the United States for the training of Turkish pilots. Turkey also produces almost 7 percent of the F35 components, including parts of the fuselage and cockpit displays.

The U.S. congress warns its sanctions will hit the Turkish economy seriously and harm Turkey's aerospace and defense industry.

As the United States mounts pressure on Turkey to abandon the purchase of its Russian-made S-400s, Turkish local media reported alternative formulas to avoid the sanctions, such as selling or deploying the systems to a third-party country.

However, these claims were refuted by Cavusoglu. "It is a done deal. We are committed to the agreement. There is no possibility to sell it to a third country," he said on March 30 at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

On the most recent claims regarding a postponement for delivery of Russian systems to Turkey, Cavusoglu on Thursday said that "there is no statement issued by us on the issue that delivery of S-400 to Turkey will be postponed."

In an attempt to avoid possible sanctions by its NATO ally, Ankara in the meantime sticks to the formula of establishing a joint technical committee with the United States to examine Washington's concerns on the use of F-35 fighter jets on the same territory with Russian S-400s.

The Turkish leadership has not backed off its deal with Russia stressing that the procurement is a "done deal" and the deliveries will start in June. It concurrently urges Washington on the issue of the committee to gain time, according to an Ankara-based political journalist.

For Turkey, establishing a technical committee with NATO will be a step whose possible outcomes can relieve the hands of both the United States and Turkey and will gain time as well, said Hande Firat, daily Hurriyet columnist.

"If a technical committee is formed, a possible outcome of the work can comfort Turkey in the international arena," she said, noting that the two countries can take some steps by conducting backdoor diplomacy in the period gained.

However, Turkey's proposal for the committee with the participation of NATO officials has not been responded by the United States, despite a phone conversation between the presidents of the two countries two weeks ago.

Barcin Yinanc, political journalist and columnist of Hurriyet Daily News, believed that currently Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense system stands as the most immediate potentially explosive crisis between Ankara and Washington.

The timeframe depends on the delivery date of the S-400, she said, adding that the two sides have to find a solution by the deadline.

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