U.S. failed to keep promises on F-35s, Patriot, says Erdoğan

The United States has failed to fulfill its promises to Turkey regarding the F-35 fighter jets and the Patriot defence system, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday, which is among the string of issues that will be discussed with the upcoming meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

A wide range of issues, including bilateral ties, will be discussed with Biden during the meeting on Monday on the sidelines of the NATO summit, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying during a press conference in Istanbul.

"We will have to lay on the table first degree Turkey-U.S. relations during this meeting,’’Erdoğan said. "Although Turkey has fulfilled promises regarding F-35s, unfortunately, the U.S. has not fulfilled promises. (The U.S.) Did not keep its promise on the Patriot system, either’’.

Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 Lightning II jet programme in 2019 after Turkey purchased the Russian S-400 air missile systems, which it maintains poses a security threat to U.S. and NATO systems.

But Turkish contractors continue to manufacture parts for the fifth generation jet, despite the country’s removal from the programme and the implementation of U.S. sanctions on the Turkish Defence Industries Presidency (SSB) in December.

Ankara maintains it only decided topurchase Russian S-400s after Turkey’s attempts to purchase Patriot missiles failed after former U.S. President Barack Obama refused to sell the equivalent U.S. system.

Washington and Ankara must seek ways to put behind troubles and move on, Erdoğan said, adding that it was time to "talk about what we can do and what we will do."

Turkey protects both its own borders and those of NATO, the Turkish president said, while underlining the country’s fight against terrorism and the pressure it faces over irregular migration.

“Turkey will once again underline the importance of alliance with its allies,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish leader also said that Turkey was the only country that could be “trusted to continue the process” after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.