Spotlight: Turkey, U.S. in talks for procurement of U.S. Patriot system

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-24 05:28:57|Editor: Mengjie
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ANKARA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Turkey and the United States are continuing talks for procurement of Patriot missile defense system after Ankara signed an accord with Moscow to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

"Our work on Patriots and other systems that are compatible with NATO will continue," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on Friday noting that Turkey, as a NATO member having the alliance's borders, is "positive for all sort of joint work" that will maintain the security of its borders.

"We have not given up for NATO-compatible systems," he said, adding that the U.S. is "still an ally of Turkey despite its mistakes in the region of Syria."

Yildirim was referring to disagreements between Ankara and Washington with regards to U.S. support given to Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey sees affiliated to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

These talks would not be "alternative" to Turkey's procurement of Russian S-400 anti-missile defense systems as S-400 is an "independent" system, the prime minister said.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy has also confirmed talks with the U.S. for Patriot systems. "Turkey continues to hold talks with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium and the U.S. to buy missile defense systems," he told reporters on Friday.

"The system we are buying from Russia cannot be integrated into NATO systems, but we are maintaining our target to develop a system that is compatible with NATO," Aksoy said in reply to allegations that Ankara and Washington are in talks for procurement of Patriot systems.

"Our cooperation with Eurosam is in line with this target. On the other hand, we continue our talks for Patriot systems with the U.S.," Aksoy noted.

Tina Kaidanow from U.S. State Department will pay a visit to Turkey in late March for talks on Patriot systems, local media reported.

In December, Turkey and Russia finalized a deal to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries. Turkey will be the first NATO member to acquire the Russian system.

Ankara says it urgently needs an air defense system and Russia provided the best option.

Turkey's procurement of the Russian system has raised concerns with NATO allies who often warn that the country Ankara should invest in defense technology that is compatible with NATO systems.

The U.S. warns Turkey that the country might face sanctions for its decision to purchase Russian S-400 defense system because of a recent law recently adopted by Washington against some Russian companies.

In an apparent move to balance its relations with the Western world, in January Turkey took a step towards closer defense cooperation with France and Italy with a contract for a study into the development and production of a long-range missile defense system called Eurosam.

Turkey's motivation to purchase Patriot systems is mainly strategic and political, according to experts.

"Turkey conducts a joint development program, on the other hand, makes immediate procurement of S-400 systems, now it makes another immediate procurement of Patriots, along with carrying out work to develop its national systems. These procurements seem like elements of a strategic and political equation," defense industry expert Arda Mevlutoglu told Xinhua.

"These systems have specific weights. Purchase of them may be part of other negotiations, such as Afrin or Manbij," he said referring to Turkey's ongoing military operation into Syria's Afrin and discussions between Ankara and Washington for the retreat of Syrian Kurdish militia from Manbij region of the country.

If it was just a technical procurement, Turkish government should initiate a tender and Turkish Air Forces should be prominent in the process, Mevlutoglu said.