President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he will discuss buying U.S. Patriot missiles with President Donald Trump this month.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, which followed unsuccessful attempts to purchase an air defense system from the United States, has raised tensions with its NATO ally that has warned Turkey that it will respond with sanctions.
Erdoğan told Reuters he had discussed buying Patriots in a phone call with Trump two weeks ago and would follow up when they meet at the United Nations General Assembly, which opens next week.
“I said no matter what package of … S-400s we get, we can buy from you a certain amount of Patriots,” Erdoğan told Reuters.
“But I said we have to see conditions that at least match up to the S-400s,” Erdoğan said, adding that he was referring to the possibility of joint production and favorable lending terms.
“He (Trump) said: ‘Are you serious?’ I said: ‘Yes’,” Erdoğan said, adding that he told Trump they would discuss it in greater detail when they meet.
The Ankara-Moscow S-400 deal was inked in December 2017, when the parties signed a $2.5 billion agreement for two batteries of the S-400, which is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system in use since 2007.
The 2017 contract with Russia followed lengthy efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success.
In recent months U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose U.S. F-35 fighter jets to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Asked whether he would also ask Trump to prevent the U.S. Treasury imposing a fine on Turkey’s Halkbank for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, Erdoğan said he was confident they could avoid such a “mistake,” citing what he said was “a different kind of trust” between the two men.
“In my opinion a country like the U.S.A. will not want to hurt its ally Turkey any more. This is not a rational behavior,” he said in an interview at Dolmabahçe Palace complex on the Bosporus in Istanbul.