Turkey never promises not to use Russian-made air defense system: FM

2019-11-27 02:10:28 GMT2019-11-27 10:10:28(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

ANKARA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Turkey has never promised to anyone that it would not install or use the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

"We have no commitment to anyone that we will not install or not use the S-400. We purchased it because we needed an air defense system. Is an air defense system taken to keep it in the box?" the top Turkish diplomat told reporters.

The U.S. Congress has threatened to impose sanctions against Turkey, saying the missiles are not compatible with NATO defense systems. Last week, a senior U.S. State Department official reportedly said Turkey needed to get rid of the S-400s in order to mend fences with Washington.

Washington removed Ankara from the F-35 jet program, though Turkey is a buyer and manufacturer of the fifth-generation aircraft.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Donald Trump agreed to ask their respective ministers and national security advisers to work on resolving the S-400 issue until April.

The delivery of the first batch of the S-400 system to Turkey started in July. Speaking about the second delivery, Erdogan said that they would be fully deployed by April 2020.

On Monday, Turkey started testing the S-400 radar system in Murted Airbase in the capital Ankara, with the local media showing footage of activated radar systems.

Ankara governor's office announced on Sunday that the Turkish Air Force F-16s and other aircraft would conduct low- and high-altitude flights over Ankara on Monday and Tuesday to test an air defense system.

"Everything on the S-400 system goes as planned," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the tests.

"Everyone is making every effort to complete this process. Our activities continue as planned," Akar said.

Meanwhile, Alexander Mikheev, head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said that Russia planned to sign a new contract with Turkey to supply its S-400 system in the first half of 2020.

"We hope that in the first half of 2020 we will sign contract documents," Mikheev was quoted by media reports as saying.

 

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