ANKARA: Turkey will not turn back from its deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday, a day after an informal deadline Washington set for Ankara to respond to a rival offer passed.
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defense system, despite warnings from the US-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
They have also said it would jeopardize Turkey’s purchase of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in the United States imposing sanctions.
“We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done,” Erdogan said, according to broadcaster NTV.
He said Turkey was open to purchasing Patriot systems from the United States as long as the deal served Turkey’s interests, but added there were issues on delivery and production that were still being discussed with Washington.
“The US administration views the early delivery issue positively, but they won’t say anything about joint production or a credit. We continue our work based on the promise of the S-400 deliveries in July.”
The formal U.S. offer for Turkey’s purchase of Patriot systems expires at the end of March, U.S. officials have told Reuters, after which a new offer would have to be submitted.
The United States asked Turkey to give at least an informal answer on whether it would go ahead with its S-400 purchase by Feb. 15, one US official said.
It was not immediately clear whether Turkey had responded to the US offer.