Jul 14 2018

Trump promised delivery of F-35 fighter jets - president Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that his US counterpart, Donald Trump, has promised to deliver 100 F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Turkish news website T24 reported.

Erdoğan is also reported as having said that Turkey’s defence policies are in line with Trump’s urging of NATO allies’ to share more of the burden within the alliance, following Trump having told NATO leaders they should increase their defence spending to 4 percent of their country’s economic output, doubling the group’s current goal of 2 percent, during last weeks NATO summit in Brussels.

“At the moment Turkey’s support is around 1.8 percent. We also spend $30 billion on equipment and ammunition,” President Erdoğan told reporters on his way back to Ankara from the last weeks summit in Brussels.

Erdoğan noted that Turkey aimed to accelerate its defence efforts and added that Turkey is also sharing the burden in Afghanistan where it has 686 military personnel stationed in the country, and is responsibile for ensuring the security of Kabul airport. 

Erdoğan also told reporters that during his bilateral meeting with President Trump the two leaders discussed the situation in the Syrian town of Manbij, as well as the deal between the U.S. and Turkey for the delivery of 100 F-35 fighter jets. 

After months of negotiations, the two countries agreed in early July to a roadmap for Manbij over the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey recognises as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years. Turkish Armed Forces announced on June 18 that Turkish soldiers started patrolling the outskirts of Manbij in cooperation with the U.S. forces.

“The deal on Manbij is going ahead as planned. But of course our ultimate aim is for the United States to cut all its relations with the YPG,” Erdoğan said, adding that at the moment the U.S. does not seem to be making such a move.

About the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets and the U.S. Congress’s efforts to block the deal, Edoğan said that President Trump promised to abide the deal. “Mr. Trump told me that the deal will go ahead as decided. ‘I have given the necessary instructions’ he told me. White House has also sent a letter to the U.S. Congress. He told me that he is against the sanctions,” Erdoğan told reports.

Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile systems as well as plans to further military cooperation with Russia have been a source of concern among its NATO allies. “During the summit, we underlined the importance of reviving political and military dialogue with Russia to reduce the military risks and to ensure transparency,” Erdoğan said.

According to Erdoğan, the summit between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Finnish capital Helsinki is extremely important. “We also plan to have a phone call with Mr. Putin on Saturday, and I will propose to him coming together in Turkey for a summit with a narrowed agenda. It will be good for us if he accepts that offer after Helsinki. I want to organise this meeting maybe by inviting one or two other countries,” Erdogan said.