Biden raises concerns over Russian missile system with Turkey’s Erdoğan
President Biden on Sunday met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Group of 20 summit in Rome, where he raised concerns about Turkey’s ownership of a Russian S-400 missile system.
According to the White House, Biden expressed gratitude to Erdoğan for Turkey’s nearly 20 years of contributions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
“The leaders discussed the political process in Syria, the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in need, elections in Libya, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, and diplomatic efforts in the South Caucasus,” the White House said.
“President Biden reaffirmed our defense partnership and Turkey’s importance as a NATO Ally but noted U.S. concerns over Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 missile system,” it added.
In September, Erdoğan announced that Turkey would be purchasing the Russian defense system, claiming that the U.S. had failed to deliver F-35 jets that Ankara had purchased. After the purchase, Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program and defense officials from the nation were sanctioned.
“I explained everything to President Biden,” Erdoğan said at the time in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
However, the Pentagon had disputed Erdoğan’s claims of the U.S. not delivering on Turkey’s purchase, with spokesperson John Kirby saying in a statement to Air Force Magazine that “Turkey had multiple opportunities over the last decade to purchase the Patriot defense system from the United States and instead chose to purchase the S-400, which provides Russia revenue, access and influence.”
When asked about the F-35 deal with Turkey following Biden’s meeting and whether Erdoğan had requested any money back, a senior administration official told reporters on Sunday, “I believe there was a team from the Defense Department that was out in Turkey to begin to work with them on the F-35 issue. So that process on the F-35 is underway.”
Regarding the S-400 system, the official added that “obviously the S400 is an issue that continues to be a concern for Congress and continues to be a factor in all of these broader issues as part of our defense relationship.”
Updated at 7:47 a.m.
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