U.S. and Turkey try to ease tension over missile deal – Washington Examiner

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is working behind the scenes with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar to ease tensions between the NATO allies over Ankara’s planned purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles, the Washington Examiner said on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insistence on the Russian system and his resistance to a safe zone to protect America's Kurdish allies in Syria are the biggest issues that have brought Ankara and Washington to loggerheads, the news website said.

Akar, unlike other visiting foreign ministers, was spirited in and out of the Pentagon on Tuesday before reporters even knew he was there, the article said.

Acting chief Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers said in a statement the ministers met as strategic partners and “focused their discussion on interests, rather than positions, and on the importance of U.S.-Turkish cooperation bilaterally and as NATO allies in achieving mutual security and economic prosperity for both countries and the region.”

Summers made no mention of the spat over the U.S. threat to halt a joint F-35 fighter jet programme with Turkey or implement sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase of the Russia missile system.

Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said Washington’s plans to implement sanctions against Ankara would backfire.

“Everybody has to understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns,” Kalın said.