ANKARA- On Monday, the head of the Turkish Defence Industries Directorate said that the United States has not moved to create a joint working group to assess its concerns regarding Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems.
The two NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over Turkey's order for the S-400s, which are not compatible with the transatlantic alliance`s systems.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighters and has warned of potential U.S. sanctions if Ankara presses on with the deal. Turkey, one of the core partners in the F-35 programme and a prospective buyer, has said the S-400s will not impact the jets and has proposed to Washington forming a joint working group to assess U.S. concerns.
Speaking to reporters after an event in Ankara, Ismail Demir, who heads the state defence industry institution, said Turkey was ready to discuss Washington`s concerns. "If the source of the concerns is a technical worry stemming from the S-400s being located in Turkey, we have said repeatedly that we are ready to discuss this," Demir said.
"However, the other side (United States) has not taken any steps to form the technical team and discuss this." Demir`s comments come after U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, in which he outlined how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 programme if it pressed on with the S-400 deal. Demir said the Defence Ministry and his directorate were working on sending a response soon.