Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump may soon meet face-to-face, either in Turkey or on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan next month, Reuters quoted a senior Turkish official as saying.
“We are working on the calendar now,” the official said. “We have some positive signals, but the time has not been scheduled yet. They may meet on the margins of G20 in Japan as well,” he said. “For a bilateral visit, we are waiting for an exact date.”
Turkey and the United States also have been considering alternative dates, including July, presidential sources earlier briefed the local media.
The United States and Turkey have been at loggerheads recently, primarily due to Ankara’s planned purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which Washington says are incompatible with the NATO defense network and would pose a threat to U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Turkey also wants to buy.
June and July appear to be critical for whether tensions between the two NATO allies will continue to intensify as Russia plans to start sending initial parts of the S-400 systems to Turkey in June and finally deploy the batteries in Turkish territory in July.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several prominent U.S. senators have warned Turkey it will face penalties for buying the S-400s, under legislation which calls for sanctions against countries procuring military equipment from Russia. Turkey says as a NATO member it poses no threat to the United States and the sanctions should not apply. Washington said S-400 systems will jeopardize Turkey’s role in the F-35 fighter jet program because they could expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.
The United States already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey’s receipt of the multimillion-dollar fighter jets.
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s and revised a previous offer with a deadline that extends until June.
Ankara has proposed that Washington form a committee to examine technical concerns about its procurement of Russian systems, but U.S. officials have yet to respond the offer.